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While it seems as though mothers typically still have an advantage in custody cases, you never know for sure how a case will go. This was true when Bode Miller and Sara McKenna both sought primary custody of their unborn child.

Olympic bronze medal winner Bode Miller and Sara McKenna met through a high-end dating service, but their relationship only lasted three months. Afterward, McKenna discovered she was pregnant. Several months later, Miller married his current wife, volleyball player Morgan Beck. (New York Times )

Miller had initially expressed no interest in parenting the unborn child. McKenna, who is a former Marine and firefighter, decided to move from California to New York to attend Columbia University on the G.I. bill. She moved when she was seven months pregnant, and the baby was born in New York. During her pregnancy, Miller sought custody of the child in a New York Family Court. He accused her of leaving California to find a sympathetic court. The NY Family Court judge agreed, reprimanding McKenna and turning the case over for California jurisdiction. A California court awarded primary custody to Miller.

The case brought up legal issues about women’s rights and whether a pregnant woman had the legal right to move. McKenna appealed the decision, and the appellate court ruled that New York had jurisdiction, not California because the child was born in New York. The appellate court also ruled that “Putative fathers have neither the right nor the ability to restrict a pregnant woman from her constitutionally protected liberty.” The New York court returned temporary custody to McKenna, which allowed her to establish residence in New York.

Child custody battles can be some of the most heart-wrenching issues for parents. Having an effective and compassionate Long Island divorce lawyer at your side, like Christ Palermo, can help you overcome the challenges and protect your rights.