A Texas father has been left reeling after a judge effectively barred him from allowing his three children to be alone with his husband after the judge specified the kids couldn’t be left with anyone not related by blood or adoption.
The father, William Flowers, divorced ex-wife Lacey Flowers in 2004 and has since gone on to marry a male partner, Jim Evan. Flowers and Evans traveled to the state of Connecticut to wed in 2010 because Texas does not allow — or recognize — same-sex marriage.
Flowers’ ex-wife gained full custody of the children after their divorce. William Flowers recently challenged this but earlier this year a jury denied him sole custody of his twin nine-year-old girls and 14-year-old boy but did maintain William’s weekly visits with the children.
However the presiding judge, Judge Charley Prince, then issued an order in June, signed last Friday, that contained a restriction that Flowers cannot leave or place his children in the care of any “person not related to the children by blood or adoption” without ex-wife Lacey’s express permission. This means he can’t leave his kids with his husband unless his ex-wife allows it, and given the bad feeling there this seems unlikely.
Now this kind of order would not be unusual in cases where there have been proven incidents of abuse or wrongdoing. Lacey has twice brought assault charges against William. A 2003 case was dismissed, and a separate case in 2004 saw William Flowers found not guilty. Therefore there seems no basis for the judge’s restriction. What’s more, William Flowers’ partner Jim Evans actually has children of his own from a previous marriage, and with no recorded troubles there he would seem a suitable care provider.
William Flowers contends that, with this restriction, the judge has shown judicial activism and homophobia.
ABC News has the story:
Austin family law attorney Jennifer Cochran is quoted as saying the order “strikes at the very heart of the fact that he’s gay … it’s judicial activism, legislating from the bench.”
Another attorney, Diana Simms, said she’s unaware of there ever being an order quite like this, adding “for the judge to slam him like this for no reason whatsoever is just pure homophobia.”
So what says Lacey’s attorney? From Houston Press’ Hair Balls Blog:
Evans, who is a family attorney, said he has never come across so restrictive an order, especially without the order naming any cause or wrongdoing. Flowers has never been charged with a crime. “It’s unheard of,” he said. “If somebody gets sick and has to go to the doctor, he can’t just take them to the doctor. He has to take all of them.”
“It’s not totally exclusive,” said Jennifer Broussard, Lacey’s attorney. “Lacey can agree to do otherwise. It’s just these unknown people about whom William will not divulge any information to Lacey — that just can’t happen.”
Was she referring to William Flowers’s husband, Jim Evans? Hair Balls asked.
“Well, he doesn’t have a husband in Texas, dear,” Broussard said.
As mentioned above, the couple plans to appeal the judge’s ruling.
Image captured from the ABC video under fair use terms, no infringement intended.