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Case Summary & History

Family & Relationships

Case: Johnson v. SooHoo

STATUS: Victory, Iowa

Marilyn Johnson and Nancy SooHoo raised two children together while living in Minnesota. When the couple broke up, Johnson unilaterally cut off contact between SooHoo and the children. The Minnesota Supreme Court held in 2007 that SooHoo was a person “in loco parentis” who had a parent-child relationship with the children, and found that it was in the children’s best interest to have visitation with SooHoo, whom they called “mommy.” In 2008, Johnson moved the children to Iowa and later filed a petition in Iowa in an attempt to end SooHoo’s visitation with the children.

In December 2008, an Iowa trial court held that under federal law, it could not reconsider the visitation decision made by the Minnesota court. The court held that the Minnesota court has exclusive jurisdiction under the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act as long as SooHoo continues to live there. The result of the court’s decision is that SooHoo may continue to visit her children. This case is an important victory for LGBT families who move to different states. These families deserve the same respect and recognition as in their home state.

SooHoo was represented in Iowa by the firm Nyemaster, Goode, West, Hansell & O’Brien, P.C., with NCLR’s assistance.

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