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Olympic skier reaches temporary child custody agreement

Unusual custody battle highlights complex issues of relocation and visiting rights

In the latest development in the much publicized custody battle between Olympic skier Bode Miller and his ex-girlfriend, the two parties have agreed on a temporary child custody agreement, according to the New York Daily News. The unusual case, which involved women's rights groups and courts in two different states, has highlighted the potential conflicts that can arise when a child is born from a short-term relationship and the parents live in separate jurisdictions.

Ex-girlfriend moved while pregnant

Miller and his ex-girlfriend had a brief relationship that resulted in the woman becoming pregnant. The two had already broken up before the child was born when the woman moved from California, where Miller lives, to New York City to study at Columbia University.

Miller went to a California court accusing his former partner of fleeing with the unborn baby in order to find a more sympathetic court in New York. The court agreed with Miller and eventually custody of the child, who was born in New York, was awarded to him. That decision was condemned by many women's rights groups who claimed the court had essentially violated a pregnant woman's right to move.

A New York appeals court overturned that ruling, saying the California court had violated the mother's constitutional liberties, according to the New York Times.

Temporary custody agreement

That series of court decisions, however, did not solve the central issue of who would be awarded custody of the child. Miller and the mother were due to arrive in court in New York City on April 21, but a last minute agreement allowed them to avoid a potentially contentious court battle.

While the details of the agreement were not released, it is known that it is a temporary arrangement until a court appointed psychologist performs an evaluation of the parents and reports back to the court. The parents agreed to a shared custody plan, but according to the mother she will have to fly out to California multiple times a month in order to see her son.

The agreement is likely only to last until September, when the parents will have to decide on a more permanent custody arrangement.

Dealing with custody issues

As the above case shows, child custody issues can often become highly contentious, especially if the parents live far away from one another or are pursuing very different lifestyles. While this case may be unusual in some ways, many New York families are undoubtedly familiar with how complex issues surrounding relocation and visiting rights can become when a child is involved in a divorce or separation.

Anybody who is seeking custody of a child should consult with a qualified family lawyer beforehand. Due to the complexities of child custody laws, especially for unmarried couples, parents will want the expertise of experienced legal counsel in order to pursue a custody agreement that is most likely to work for them.

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