US Olympic skier Miller and ex reach custody deal
Champion skier Bode Miller may set a precedent on the respective rights of estranged parents of unborn babies. Miller and his former lover have agreed to share time with their infant son for four months, meaning he can now accompany him to the Winter Olympics.PT0M49S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2z2xl 620 349 December 10, 2013
Olympic ski champion Bode Miller and his ex-girlfriend have agreed to share custody of their young son following a year of legal battles that have played out in two US states and raised questions about the rights of women to move while pregnant.
Miller, 36, and ex-girlfriend Sara McKenna, 27, told a New York City Family Court referee on Monday they had settled on a temporary order that gives them each specific blocks of time with their nine-month-old son. The agreement will remain in place while they seek a permanent custody arrangement.
Fiordaliza Rodriguez, the court attorney referee, accepted the plan and said it "appears to be in the best interest of the child".
Bode Miller: happy with the judgment. Photo: AP
After the hearing, Miller told reporters: "We're psyched about the co-parenting plan."
He said his son will be able to accompany him to the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi in February. It will be Miller's fifth Olympics.
Miller and McKenna, who dated briefly in San Diego in 2012, have been fighting for primary legal custody of the boy since before he was born.
Bode Miller: champion skier was briefly awarded primary custody of their baby boy. Photo: AFP
McKenna, a former Marine, relocated from California to New York last December while seven months pregnant to attend Columbia University.
Shortly after the child was born, Rodriguez heard the case and lambasted McKenna for moving while pregnant, calling the decision to relocate while custody was at play "reprehensible".
Rodriguez sent the case back to California, and a judge there stripped McKenna of primary custody, handing the baby over to Miller and his new wife, professional volleyball player Morgan Beck-Miller, in September.
Sara McKenna: personal freedoms called into question. Photo: AP
McKenna's attorneys appealed, and a five-judge panel ruled in November that her rights had been violated and that jurisdiction belongs in New York because the baby, born on February 23, was a resident of the state.
Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York chapter of the National Organisation for Women, said the original family court ruling had set a "dangerous" precedent for pregnant women who need to move.
"It was unprecedented," Ossorio said. "Basically the judge accused Sara McKenna of running off with her foetus. This was a dangerous road because the Constitution grants adults, including pregnant ones, basic liberties and freedoms."
Miller wed Beck, 26, in October 2012, a California graduate he calls his ideal counterpart. In January, Beck announced she had miscarried. The next month, McKenna gave birth to the son Miller fathered.
Miller and McKenna have been engaged in a bitter custody battle for a year, even feuding over the infant's name. McKenna calls him Sam, having given him Miller's name, "Samuel Bode"; Miller and his bride call him Nate, in memory of the skier's younger brother, Nathanial Chelone, who died in April of an apparent seizure aged 29.
McKenna and Miller have both said they had ultimately hoped to find a co-parenting agreement.
During Monday's hearing, McKenna said she thought the shared plan was "absolutely" in the best interests of the child.
Miller is also seeking custody of a five-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
Reuters with Washington Post