News, Wit & Commentary for Lesbians
JIC Post:By Ann RostowPlanetOut NetworkA Pennsylvania appellate court has ruled in favor of a non-biological lesbian mother in a case that breaks new ground.The panel did not simply acknowledge the parental rights of the other mother; those had already been established earlier in this long litigation. This time, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld trial court Judge Susan Devlin Scott in switching primary custody of twin 8-year-old boys from the biological mother to the non-biological parent, who has proven to be the more responsible of the two.The dispute between Patricia Jones and Ellen Jones Boring has been going on for years. Together since 1988, the women struggled to have a child until Boring gave birth to twins in 1996. The relationship dissolved in 2001, at which point the court filings began and the lawyers got to work.Boring, records indicate, has tried consistently to keep Jones away from the boys and distance the twins from their other mother. She has tried unsuccessfully to change their names, to move them out of state, and, according to anecdotal evidence presented to the court, she has told friends that her primary goal is to do all in her power to undermine Jones' parental status.Represented by Lambda Legal, Jones by contrast has impressed school authorities, court-appointed evaluators and others with her dedication to her sons. Add to this Boring's reported drinking problem, an unstable history and a suspiciously erratic score on various psychological tests, and the calculus led a trial court to switch custody to Jones.The three-judge panel upheld that decision and noted that there is a strong argument in favor of deciding custody disputes between certain same-sex parents on the simple basis of the best interest of the child.The ruling means that "biology alone does not trump the best interests of the child," said Lambda's Alphonso David. "We are pleased to see the court keeping its eye on the prize ... and granting primary physical custody to the parent who is best able to provide a stable and loving home, regardless of biology." It is not clear whether Ellen Boring will appeal the ruling. The legal fight could go up to the state Supreme Court.
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