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Bode Miller's custody dispute sheds light on father's rights

Establishing paternity and enjoying fathers' rights can be a complicated issue for unwed fathers across the U.S., including those in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. In a recent case, the child custody battle between Olympic skier Bode Miller and his former girlfriend, Sara McKenna, has ignited the debate over whether a fetus is a child or a part of the mother's body, and whether a pregnant woman can travel away from the unborn child's father.

In Miller's case, the couple had a relationship that did not last for long, but yielded a child. Miller married another woman while McKenna moved to another state to pursue her education. McKenna claimed that Miller did not show any interest with the baby boy, now 9-months-old, while she was pregnant. In 2012, Miller filed a lawsuit claiming that he is the father of the child and accused McKenna of keeping him out of the child's life.

After the baby was born, McKenna petitioned for temporary custody of the child in New York, but the case was sent to California. The court stated that McKenna did not act in the best interests of the child when she moved away from Miller. A California court awarded temporary custody to Miller and his wife.

However, in November, a New York appellate court decided that the case should be processed in that state, and awarded temporary child custody back to McKenna. In December, Miller and McKenna agreed to share custody of their child.

Custody issues between unmarried parents can be complicated. Many unwed fathers aim to establish their child's paternity, which gives them an opportunity to be a part of the child's upbringing. Paternity is also important because it assigns specific responsibilities for child support.

Source: WorldMag.com, "Custody Case Brings Up Father's Rights to an Unborn Baby," Kiley Crossland, Dec. 11, 2013

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