The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld the right of a Polk County woman to seek custody of the children from the relationship she had with another woman. The two women, Jamie Lee Schott and Heather Joye Schott, began their relationship in the summer of 2000. At that time Jamie and her son Caleb moved in with Heather and in November of 2001, Heather adopted Caleb.
Jamie was later artificially inseminated with sperm from an anonymous donor and had a baby in April of 2004 that Heather also adopted. The two women ended their relationship in January of 2007 and Heather filed a petition seeking a ruling on the custody and support of the children. Jamie acknowledged that Heather was a parent of the children, but filed a counterclaim alleging they were married and seeking alimony and a division of their assetts.
The district court ruled that Heather’s adoptions of the children were contrary to Iowa’s adoption statute and invalid. The court did not recognize the couple’s marriage and said that Jamie’s parental rights would have to be terminated before Heather could adopt the children.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that Heather and Jamie where the children’s legal parents and the district court was wrong to declare the adoptions invalid. The High Court says since the adoptions were valid, the district court has jurisdiction to decide the custody and support issues, and sent the case back to the district court.