The custody battle involving Olympic skier Bode Miller raises the question of whether a pregnant woman should be legally obligated to live near the unborn child's father.
California's laws came about because of surrogacy, to prevent a person who's being paid to be a surrogate and then change the rule and back out. As a result, a procedure was established in California where even pre-birth you can establish parentage and there can be pre-birth rules with respect to the child, says Judge Eugene Hyman, retired from the Superior Court in Santa Clara, California.
Bode Miller is using those laws for a completely different purpose in his situation and what he's doing is allowed under law, says Hyman. Unfortunately, New York went overboard in their application, he adds. As the case plays out, it's interesting to understand that anyone can have these jurisdictional disputes and it's true that once a procedure is started in one state, assuming that the state has initial jurisdiction to begin, the fact that one participant moves to another state doesn't necessarily mean proceedings move to another state, Hyman says. He adds that what's unusual in this case is that while there were proceedings to establish parental abilities with respect to California, prior to being born, the mother moved to New York to attend graduate school at Columbia University.
The New York judge that was drawn decided to view this as she was trying to kidnap a fetus and deny Bode Miller his parental rights and that's where things went horribly wrong, says Hyman.
Honorable Judge Eugene Hyman has received numerous awards and recognition for his work with families and children and has appeared on numerous television news shows. For more information, visit www.judgehyman.com. He is also a featured commentator on The Family Law Channel and The Legal Broadcast Network. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.