Egan v. Fridlund-Horne

Summary

Therese M. Hochmuth and her former partner planned for and equally co-parented a daughter together for the first seven years of the child's life. After the couple's separation, Hochmuth's former partner began drastically reducing Hochmuth's time with the child — even though Hochmuth had been the child's primary caretaker for her first five years and the couple had always raised her as equal co-parents. Hochmuth was eventually reduced to only 24 hours of waking time with their daughter per month, a painful diminishment of her time with the child. A trial court restored Hochmuth's equal visitation time with the child, but Hochmuth's former partner overturned that order on appeal, arguing that Hochmuth's visitation violated the former partner's constitutional rights. Lambda Legal represents Hochmuth in the Arizona Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the court of appeals' disappointing decision. We argue that it is constitutional and appropriate to protect the child's bonded relationship with Hochmuth — the same relationship her former partner encouraged and helped create.

Context

Arizona law allows courts to grant reasonable visitation to a person who has formed a meaningful parental relationship with a child. This case seeks to establish that the constitutional rights of legal parents, such as the biological mother here, are respected — not violated — when courts uphold the carefully considered decisions of those parents to co-parent their children equally.

Lambda Legal's Impact

Severely restricting a child’s time with a parent that she or he has known and loved from birth can be traumatic and damaging for the child. This case is one of many across the country in which Lambda Legal has sought to protect the parent-child bonds formed by same-sex couples and their children.

History

  • May 2009 Lambda Legal petitions for review in the Arizona Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the appellate court decision that denied Hochmuth equal parenting time with her daughter.
  • July 2009 Prominent law professors, national and local child advocacy groups, medical professionals and Wingspan — Arizona’s LGBT center — file friend-of-the-court briefs urging the Arizona Supreme Court to accept the case for review.
  • December 2009 Arizona Supreme Court issues disappointing decision denying review of the appellate court's decision challenged by Lambda Legal.

Case Information

Status: Closed

Plaintiffs

Therese M. Hochmuth

Attorneys

Lambda Legal
Tara Borelli

Co-counsel/Cooperating Attorneys
Mikkel Jordahl; Flagstaff, Arizona