Gay father ordered to pay court costs

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com January 17 2003 12:00 AM ET

A gay Idaho Falls, Ida., father has been ordered to pay his ex-wife's court costs while he waits for the Idaho supreme court to hear his precedent-setting appeal. Theron McGriff and his ex-wife, Shawn McGriff, divorced six years ago. But the custody of their two daughters remains in legal limbo. Theron McGriff says the delay is because he is gay and being discriminated against. The case centers on Theron McGriff's desire to live with his same-sex partner. When the two moved in together, Shawn McGriff sued for primary custody of the kids, claiming the children would suffer because of backlash from the conservative town.

Last year Judge L. Mark Riddoch awarded custody to Shawn McGriff and ordered that the children not visit Theron McGriff as long as he lives with his partner. Theron McGriff appealed the ruling, and Idaho's supreme court has agreed to hear the case. But on December 31, Riddoch ordered Theron McGriff to begin paying his ex-wife's legal fees associated with the appeal--estimated to reach $30,000. Theron McGriff paid $750 to his ex-wife's attorney on Wednesday and is expected to pay $500 a month until all the fees are paid. Under Idaho legal procedures, a judge can order that legal fees be paid by either party in custody cases if there is a financial need.

Theron McGriff said he does not know how he will come up with the money to pay both his and his ex-wife's legal costs. "We were disappointed and devastated by the ruling," he said. "It took me a while to regroup afterward, because I've spent every dime I can spend on this thing. I've told a few friends about it, and they're organizing community dinners once a month to help make the payment. Everybody's going to bring a dish and make a donation." He also said he would fight the latest ruling: "We're going to take it up with a higher court; we'll fight it for sure. I have no choice. Most important, I just need to be with my girls."