A woman who gave birth to a child months before entering a same-sex civil union in Vermont is appealing a court ruling that granted parental standing to her former partner.
Cheryl Barlow, who says she no longer is a lesbian, was united with Keri Jones, both residents of Utah, five months after Barlow became pregnant by artificial insemination in 2001.
But the relationship ended in 2003 after Barlow discovered Jones was seeing another woman.
Jones then sued for parental visitation rights to Barlow’s child and was granted favor by Judge Timothy Hanson in Utah’s 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City after a brief, three-day trial.
Barlow wants the Utah Court of Appeals to overturn the decision.
Her attorney, Frank Mylar, who is allied with the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, argues Jones has had no relationship with the now 3-year-old child for over a year and has no legal right to visitation.
“Enforced visitation will only promote confusion and conflict in this child’s life and upbringing,” he said.
Mylar points out the civil union is not valid in Utah, where the law ensures Jones could never have any legal right to Barlow’s child during their relationship.
“We do not believe the court sufficiently evaluated the child’s well-being,” Mylar said. “The decision to grant Jones visitation with the child defies Barlow’s constitutional rights, Utah law and local public policy.”
The appeals court will hear the case even though an appellate judge decided Friday not to stay the order of the lower court, forcing the child to spend 10-hour visitations with Jones during the proceedings.
“It is unconstitutional for the court to award parental standing to an unrelated third party over the objections of a fit natural parent who has never been deprived of custody,” Mylar contended.
“Granting parental standing to a legal stranger in a non-marital relationship pushes Utah law to where it’s never been,” he said.