Supreme Court rules in gay adoption case

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday said a district court erred by ruling it didn't have jurisdiction over custody issues involving a gay woman's adoption of her partner's children.

Court records said Heather Schott was in a relationship for several years with Jamie Schott, the children's natural parent. After the women ended their relationship, Heather Schott asked a district court to determine child custody, physical care and support for the two children.

The district court found that Heather Schott's adoptions of the children were invalid because they were contrary to state adoption law. The court considered her "a legal stranger" to the children, and said it did not have jurisdiction and dismissed her petition to determine custody and other issues.

"We find it was inappropriate for the district court to collaterally attack the adoptions," the high court said in its ruling. "Heather is the children's legal parent and the district court had ... jurisdiction to rule on her petition."

The district court ruled that an unmarried adult can't adopt without terminating the rights of both natural parents, and that since Jamie Schott's rights weren't terminated the adoptions weren't valid.

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