Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

M.B. v. D.W. Kentucky Court of Appeals (2007)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination

The new husband of a divorced mother of three children filed a petition seeking to adopt the remaining minor child without the consent of her biological father, effectively terminating her parental rights. After the divorce, appellant-father underwent gender reassignment surgery and now lives as a woman. The children discovered this when they visited their father in Florida and told her afterward that they no longer wanted to see her. The minor child testified that she did not want to see her father, wants to be adopted by her stepfather, and is in psychological counseling. The Hardin County Circuit Court granted the petition, finding that the children suffered psychological harm because they were not adequately prepared for their father’s transition. The Court of Appeals of Kentucky affirmed, largely on the justification that circuit courts have broad discretion in determining whether, in parental rights actions, termination is in the child’s best interest due to abuse or neglect. The Court of Appeals and trial court both noted that the appellant's sex reassignment was not the basis for terminating her parental rights. They explained that she failed to prepare her children or ex-wife at all for her transition, her minor child suffers from ongoing psychological harm, she did not meet her financial obligations for her minor child’s medical care, and her minor child wanted to be adopted by her stepfather.