An Arkansas man can have his gay partner and son under the same roof after the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed a prior court order.
Little Rock's KTHV-TV reports that Arkansas' highest court reversed an earlier court decision barring John Moix from having his same-sex partner in the home when Moix's son had an overnight visit.
This case is a victory for many gay parents who have been barred by their ex-spouses from having their children and new partners in one place.
Divorced Couple Fought for Custody of Youngest Son
John Moix and his ex-wife Libby have been divorced since 2004, and the divorce decree made Libby the primary caretaker of their three sons while allowing John reasonable visitation.
In 2005, Libby petitioned the family circuit court to grant her sole custody of the children due to her children being exposed to her ex-husband's "illicit relationship" with his live-in male companion. John agreed to a modification of their visitation agreement to grant sole custody of their youngest son to Libby and denying any overnight visitation.
After seven years, John petitioned the court to change the custody agreement, citing his wife's remarriage, his son's wish to see his father, and his son's increased age as changed circumstances.
Based on testimony about the nurturing and supportive environment of John and his partner's shared home, the lower court granted the modification as being in the best interest of the child. However, the court added the caveat that John and his partner could not "cohabitate" when the son visited overnight.
Ark. Supreme Court Strikes Down Order
The Arkansas Supreme Court noted in its decision that the state generally frowns on non-married couples living together in the presence of children. However, that public policy is not a "blanket ban" on unmarried couples having custody of children, as the Arkansas Supreme Court noted that unmarried persons could be foster parents or even adopt.
The bottom line, the Arkansas Supreme Court stated, is the best interest of the child, regardless of the parent's marital status, which must be considered on a case-by-case basis. In this case, the lower court had agreed that being with John and his partner was in his son's best interest, so the state's highest court struck down that order and remanded the case.
The lower court will now have to consider, based on Moix's family situation, whether the non-cohabitation clause is truly in his son's best interests.
- Arkansas Supreme Court Overturns Blanket Use of Cohabitation Restrictions in Child Custody Cases (ACLU)
- Lesbian Custody Dispute: Ohio Biological Mom Gets Custody (FindLaw's Decided)
- Child Custody Rights for Gays and Lesbians in Arkansas (FindLaw's KnowledgeBase)
- Adoptive Lesbian Mother Wins NY Custody Battle (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)