Mothers’ Rights: The Bode Miller Case

Alpine skiing veteran Bode Miller has garnered headlines lately that have little to do with downhill racing. In a case playing out on both coasts, the custodial setting of the son of Mr. Miller and an ex-girlfriend has provoked heated discussion about parental rights. 

In addition to a high-profile quest for Olympic gold at Sochi, Olympic champion Bode Miller seeks custody of his now 10-month-old boy. The boy, named Sam by his mother and Nate by his father, is a product of a brief relationship between Mr. Miller and Sara McKenna. 

Mr. Miller briefly dated Ms. McKenna, an ex-Marine and firefighter. Ms. McKenna became pregnant in April 2012; the couple separated shortly thereafter. In October of the same year, Mr. Miller married a volleyball player he began dating about the same time as his breakup with Ms. McKenna. 

Seeking to fulfill her educational goals, Ms. McKenna moved to New York to attend Columbia University on the G.I. Bill. Mr. Miller then filed a Petition to Establish a Parental Relationship in California. 

Ms. McKenna filed for temporary custody of her child, born in Feb. 2013. The New York court referee overseeing the case ruled: 

  • Ms. McKenna “forum shopped” by moving to New York to pursue her education.
  • In doing so, Ms. McKenna displayed “unjustifiable conduct.”
  • Ms. McKenna's “appropriation of the child while in utero was reprehensible.” 

Ms. McKenna lost custody of her baby and Mr. Miller took the boy to live with him in California. In November 2013, a New York appeals panel rejected the ruling of the referee finding “[p]utative fathers have neither the right nor the ability to restrict a pregnant woman from her constitutionally protected liberty” and immediately returned temporary custody to Ms. McKenna. 

The outcome of this already disturbing case and its impact on parental rights remains to be seen. If dealing with child custody, Bryan L. Salamone and Associates, P.C. offers aggressive representation to protect your parenting rights in New York. 


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