Ohio court reverses custody ruling

Sept. 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- An Ohio court nullified an earlier decision, saying a woman has no right to the biological daughter of her former lesbian partner, court documents said.

After years of legal acrimony, Maggie Gross won a child-custody battle in Franklin County, Ohio, Juvenile Court, earlier this year, over the daughter, now 7, of partner Jennifer Herrick, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch said Monday.

However, the Franklin County Court of Appeals decided Aug. 9 that Gross has no legal rights to the girl because the child was adopted in January 2011 by the man Herrick married after the relationship between Herrick and Gross ended.

A finalized adoption, under Ohio law, is meant to provide a new identity and new family for the child, the newspaper said. The court said the law severs "legal relationships with non-relatives, such as (Gross), who attempt to base their claims on relationships in existence prior to the adoption."

The appeals judges said Juvenile Court no longer had jurisdiction to order shared custody, even though Gross filed for custody, prior to the adoption, in 2009.

"There are thousands of shared-custody agreements around this state. This is a three-parent family, like so many others," said LeeAnn Massucci, Gross' attorney, noting the case was another twist in the custody rights of same-sex couples, who cannot marry or adopt under Ohio law.

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