A mother seeks to keep custodial rights to her children after her ex-partner attempts to use Ohio’s antigay constitutional amendment to keep them from her.
Rita Goodman and Siobhan LaPiana planned and had two children during their ten-year committed relationship. LaPiana gave birth to the children but both women parented the boys equally. The women drafted and signed a parenting agreement before the birth of their first child, detailing their intent to share all responsibilities of parenthood. But after the couple split, LaPiana began restricting Goodman’s interaction with the boys. Goodman went to court and a Cleveland trial court granted her shared custody of the boys with LaPiana.
LaPiana appealed. She pointed to Ohio’s antigay constitutional amendment, claiming it prevents courts from ordering shared custody to former lesbian partners, and argued that the court’s order infringed on her right to autonomy as a parent.
Lambda Legal entered the case on behalf of Rita Goodman, arguing that the state’s antigay constitutional amendment has no bearing on the court’s authority to order shared custody between former same-sex partners — the same conclusion reached by the Ohio Supreme Court in a similar case last year.
Because LaPiana agreed to co-parent her children from birth with Goodman, court intervention for the purpose of protecting the child-parent bond between Goodman and her sons is constitutional. “I made a promise to take care of [my sons] always,” says Rita Goodman. “And I’m just trying to make good on that promise.”
The case is In re S.J.L. and J.K.L.