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Case Summary & History

Family & Relationships

Case: In re J.D.F.

STATUS: Victory, Ohio

T.L. and D.F., a lesbian couple, planned to have a child together. D.F. gave birth to their child, J.D.F. In order to protect the child’s relationship with both parents, the couple entered into a court-approved joint custody agreement. Several years later, T.L. and D.F. separated and agreed to share custody. But in 2004, Ohio’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment excluding same-sex couples from marriage was passed. D.F. began to prevent T.L. from seeing their child, arguing that the amendment invalidated their shared custody order. In January 2007, a judge ruled that a custody agreement between two lesbian parents can be valid and enforceable despite Ohio’s anti-LGBT amendment. On appeal, T.L. was represented by Lambda Legal. NCLR and Robert Eblin of Bailey Cavalieri, submitted an amicus brief in support of T.L., providing a national overview of the law and showing that like Ohio, many other states enforce custody agreements.

In June 2008, the Tenth District Ohio Appeals Court ruled that D.F. was not allowed to attack the validity of the shared custody agreement she had with T.L. Soon after, D.F. attempted to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, but in December 2008 the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

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