The closing chapter was written on a long Dallas Texas child custody battle by Kristine Vowels, a non-biological lesbian mother of her former partner’s daughter, on October 8, 2010. After 3 1/2 years of battling just to have the right to sue for access to the child — called standing — Kristie decided to end her fight.
In her words contained in the Vowels’ Notice of Nonsuit filed in the M.K.S. suit in the Dallas County District Family Court, Kristie said:
"After three and a half years of contested litigation, in the interest of the child she will always consider to be her daughter regardless of the legal definition, KRISTINE VOWELS has decided she can no longer prosecute this suit against TRACY SCOURFIELD. Throughout this process, KRISTINE VOWELS’ love for her daughter endures. This decision neither changes nor lessens the bond she feels for her daughter or her desire to someday have a relationship with her.
"This is a decision borne purely from KRISTINE VOWELS love for her daughter. Although suffering immeasurable pain at the thought that she may never see her little girl again, KRISTINE VOWELS wants her daughter to know this story, to know that she fought for her, and to know that in the end, when one has to decide if it is more important to be right or to be happy, KRISTINE VOWELS chose her daughter’s happiness and quality of life over her own happiness – a true gesture of the selfless love that a parent has for their child.
"Faith, hope, and love for the little girl she has known as her daughter since before she was born compelled KRISTINE VOWELS to file this lawsuit on May 23, 2007. This love sustained KRISTINE VOWELS through three-and-a-half years of contested litigation and appeals, on a roller coaster of defeat and then victory in the Fifth Court of Appeals, through the Texas Supreme Court, and then back to this Court again, with the acknowledged right of standing to pursue her suit under the Texas Family Code. It was her hope that allowed KRISTINE VOWELS to withstand the barage of claims that she was not nor would she ever be a parent to her little girl because the laws of our State would never recognize her legal right to fight for a chance to have a relationship with her daughter. It was her faith that allowed the dream of someday holding her daughter in her arms, hearing her laugh, and seeing her smile, to survive in KRISTINE VOWELS despite the fact that she was not allowed to see or even speak to her little girl since the day she was ripped away forever on April 25, 2007.
"The same faith, hope and love that began and sustained this case and that leads KRISTINE VOWELS, after much soul searching and prayer, to make the ultimate sacrifice and end this lawsuit. Today, on October 8, 2010, out of love for her daughter and with hope and faith in the woman she will grow to become, KRISTINE VOWELS asks this Court to grant her request to nonsuit this cause, and allow the little girl affected to wake up tomorrow in a home no longer shadowed by the unrest and uncertainty of pending litigation."
This case has set a very important precedent in LGBT gay parenting child custody cases, especially because it was decided by the court of appeals sitting in Dallas Texas, widely received in Texas as the most conservative of the elected courts. For future litigation in Dallas and around the area, Vowels’ case will make the journey a little easier. But, sometimes the battle overwhelms the war. Sometimes, even in litigation, a person must ask, "would I rather be right or be happy?" or "would I rather by right or my child be happy?" It is based on this very question that Kristine Vowels made this decision to end her battle.
The Dallas Voice ran a series of 4 articles over the years, detailing Vowels efforts to gain access to her daughter:
October 15, 2010 Vowels Drops 3 1/2-year Custody Fight or read the pdf version
May 8, 2008 Lesbian Moms in Custody Battle
December 9, 2009 Appeals Court Sends Lesbian Custody Case To Trial
August 5, 2010 Vowels Custody Case Returned to Trial Court for Hearing
Click this link For more information on same-sex custody litigation in Texas