Titchenal v. Dexter
Vermont Supreme Court
693 A.2d 682 (1997)
Chris Titchenal (plaintiff) and Diane Dexter (defendant) were two women in a committed relationship. The two lived together, combined finances, and regarded one another as life partners. In 1991, Titchenal and Dexter adopted a child, Sarah Ruth Dexter-Titchenal. Although both Titchenal and Dexter held themselves out as Sarah’s mother, only Dexter had custody of Sarah. Titchenal did not seek to adopt her because she mistakenly believed the adoption law in effect at the time would not permit her to do so. In late 1994, Titchenal and Dexter’s relationship dissolved. Dexter and Sarah moved out. For the next five months, Sarah visited Titchenal for two nights per week, but by mid-1995, Dexter had restricted Titchenal’s contact with Sarah and refused her financial assistance. Titchenal requested that the court exercise its equitable jurisdiction to establish and enforce parent-child contact between her and Sarah. The court granted Dexter’s motion to dismiss, refusing to recognize a cause of action for parent-child contact without a common-law or statutory basis. Titchenal appealed, arguing that even absent statutory authority for the court to assume jurisdiction over her claim, public policy compelled that it do so.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Allen, C.J.)
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