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The Arkansas Supreme Court today reversed a lower court child custody order that prohibited a parent from having overnight visitation with his child in the presence of his long-term domestic partner. The ruling ends a widespread practice in Arkansas custody cases of courts automatically barring parents from living with an unmarried partner regardless of the circumstances.
A Pulaski County judge had ordered that it was in the child’s best interest to have overnight visitation with his father, John Moix. However, Moix’s partner was barred from being present in their home during any overnight visitation. The judge imposed this restriction despite determining that the father and his partner have lived together in a committed relationship for at least five years and that the partner poses no threat to the health, safety, or welfare of Moix’s son.
It...represents an important precedent that will allow courts to determine what’s best for children on a case-by-case basis, sparing same-sex couples from always being discriminated against in such circumstances.
Moix and Cornelius have indicated interest in traveling to Iowa to marry, but their circumstances would not change in this case because the Arkansas constitution would prohibit recognition of that union.
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