Thursday, August 29, 2002

Ruling: Gay couples can share kids' custody

By Marie McCain,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Same-sex couples who want to share parental rights can petition the courts for joint custody even though only one of them can be considered a parent, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in a case from Hamilton County.

        The high court determined that Shelly M. Zachritz does not fit the definition of a parent under state law because she is not the biological or adoptive parent of her partner's children.

        However, justices said, Ms. Zachritz is eligible for joint custody because the law recognizes “an adult's commitment to a child, and that adult's right and responsibility to continue that commitment.”

        Sallee Fry Waterman, Ms. Zachritz's attorney, called the 5-2 ruling a victory.

        “The decision advances a need for courts to determine what's in the children's best interest, regardless of the adult's title and to recognize nontraditional families in custody decisions,” she said.

        The case will be returned to Hamilton County Juvenile Court for consideration of joint custody.

        In 1999, Ms. Zachritz petitioned the Hamilton County Juvenile Court for shared parenting rights of Teri J. Bonfield's five children. Since the start of their relationship in 1987, Ms. Bonfield adopted two boys and gave birth to a son and twin girls. Ms. Zachritz participated in the planning and adoption of the children and acts as the children's primary caregiver.

        Ms. Zachritz also gave birth to a son, but that child is not part of the case.

        The couple sought shared parenting rights as a way of bolstering their commitment to the children. Ms. Zachritz currently does not have legal rights to her partner's five children and would not be able to authorize medical treatment.


Car crashes claim 7 in 14 days
Girls' deaths stun Lebanon High
N.Ky. team fields stadium sponsor
11 sex offenders sought by police
Two more hotels pull sex movies
Boycott leader must serve time
Corrections officers face charges
Deal reached on land for airport expansion
Growing church reels in people
Lawrenceburg police chief demoted, replaced
Obituary: Evelyn Sweet Sauer, 86, worked for Ruth Lyons
Perjury dismissal denied
- Ruling: Gay couples can share kids' custody
Top CPS job attracts crowd
Tristate A.M. Report
HOWARD: Some Good News
PULFER: Kate Ruffner, 11
RADEL: Get me the president
Ex-student pleads guilty to drug trafficking
Lebanon welcomes home Marty Roe
Schools plan to cost $24K
Clinton Co. woman likely victim of West Nile virus
Dreamers brushing off mining pans
Fear of suits slows paddling in schools
Ohio ruling curbs bans on smoking
Lucas advises, 'think twice' before going after Saddam
Wilder gets seminude dance club