Lesbian in custody battle must return son to Nebraska

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 20 2002 11:00 PM ET

A boy who is the subject of a custody battle between lesbian former partners must be returned to Nebraska by next month, a Douglas County, Neb., judge has ruled.

The boy has lived in Michigan with Joan Bridgens since a Douglas County court ruled last summer that the joint adoption of him by Bridgens and her former partner, Serenna Russell, was invalid. In June the Nebraska supreme court overturned that ruling and sent the case back to the lower court for further consideration.

District court judge Joseph Troia ruled Tuesday that the boy must come back to Nebraska, where the two women will share alternating weeks of parental rights beginning October 1.

Bridgens adopted the baby boy in 1996. A year later, Russell and Bridgens jointly adopted the boy while living in Pennsylvania. After the couple split, Russell asked the lower court to recognize the joint adoption so that she could gain legal custody of the boy and petition Bridgens for child support.

No Nebraska court has ruled whether a gay couple can adopt a child. However, Troia initially rejected Russell's request, saying the state of Pennsylvania lacked jurisdiction to recognize the adoption as valid.