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Case Summary & History

Transgender Law

Case: Kantaras v. Kantaras

STATUS: Victory, Florida

In June 2005, love, patience, and persistence, combined with a visionary judge and a little help from Dr. Phil, led to an historic settlement agreement between NCLR client Michael Kantaras and his former wife. Michael, a transsexual father, has been fighting for almost seven years to retain his parental rights to his two children, aged 16 and 13. This case first made national and international news in 2002, when Court TV aired the entire three week dissolution and custody trial. Michael’s former wife knew he was transgender when they married, but when Michael filed for divorce, she attacked the validity of their ten-year marriage-and Michael’s status as a legal parent to the couple’s two children-based solely on Michael’s transgender status. In February 2003, Circuit Court judge Gerard O’Brien issued a groundbreaking decision holding that Michael was legally male, affirming the validity of the marriage, and awarding Michael primary custody of the couple’s two children. In July 2004, the Court of Appeal’s reversed Judge O’Brien’s historic Order, voiding the former couple’s marriage. The appeals court sent the case back to the trial court to determine Michael’s parental rights. After hearing about the case, television celebrity Dr. Phil invited the couple to be on his show and encouraged them to mediate the case for the sake of the children. After two all-day mediation sessions, the parties reached a settlement in which Michael retains all of his parental rights and responsibilities and will continue to share legal custody with the children’s mother.

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