Alabama High Court Should Uphold State Sovereignty to Protect the Welfare of Children

Several Regent Law students are working with Prof. Kohm on matters related to this case (Jared Birckholtz, Stephanie Reidlinger, Antionette Duck, John Bailey and Joshua Nunnally). A child’s family life and stability with her parents is now apparently threatened by a judicial ruling imparting parental rights to a former partner of the child’s mother during a previous time in her life. The legal family law rules and regulations that uphold family stability to foster what is in the best interests of a child are at stake.


Press Release

April 1, 2009

Alabama High Court Should Uphold State Sovereignty to Protect the Welfare of Children

Montgomery, AL – Liberty Counsel is filing a brief today at the Alabama Supreme Court in a case involving a child caught between two same-sex partners split between California and Alabama. The Alabama Court of Appeals ruled that the state must recognize and enforce a California decision, declaring that a former same-sex partner with no biological or adoptive relationship has parental rights. Liberty Counsel represents N.B., the biological mother of a nine-year-old girl, and has taken the case to the Supreme Court.

At the time of her daughter’s birth, she was in a same-sex relationship in California. Well after the relationship ended, the former partner sued, and a California court declared her a “de facto” parent, granting A.K. visitation rights. N.B. moved to Alabama with the child and eventually married a man. She filed a parentage action at the Alabama trial court, which ruled that A.K. had no parental rights cognizable in Alabama. A.K. then challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the parentage action. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals agreed with A.K., concluding that Alabama lacked jurisdiction to entertain the parentage action and thus reinstating A.K.’s parental rights. The Court of Civil Appeals denied a petition for rehearing. Liberty Counsel was then retained to represent N.B., and was recently granted the petition for certiorari to the Alabama Supreme Court to reverse the appellate court’s ruling.

Liberty Counsel argues that the court should affirm Alabama’s sovereignty to decide how to protect and promote the welfare of Alabama’s children. The legislature, courts and citizens of Alabama have spoken with unmistakable clarity on the issue of family relationships and whether a child under the protection of Alabama law can be parented by a non-biological, non-adoptive, same-sex "second mother."

The California court, to which the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals improperly deferred jurisdiction, purports to impose its own policy judgments and ideas over the clear and expressed will of Alabama residents. One unelected state court judge sitting 2,500 miles away has attempted to dictate to the State of Alabama that it must extend the mother-child relationship to so-called “presumed mothers” who have no biological, adoptive or other legal connection to the child. To create this new legal relationship, the State of Alabama would have to now recognize, and give legal force and effect to, same-sex marriages or other unions replicating marriage that began and ended outside of Alabama.

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “The people of Alabama have the right to promote the best interest of children by protecting the common sense understanding of family consisting of a mom and a dad. A single judge in California cannot redefine the meaning of family. When the people of a state pass a constitutional amendment affirming the definition of marriage, it has to mean what it says, and one judge from a sister state may not redefine the family.”

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