Strategical planning combined with pressure and a unique scenario might as well be the holy trinity for a skilled and motivated trial lawyer.
Fry & Elder attorney Preston Bennett was faced with such a situation when a disheveled client entered his office earlier in the fall.
“She thought she had no parental rights because she was told by someone involved in the situation, she had none,” Preston Bennett said. “I told her she was wrong. She absolutely had parental rights.”
Turns out, the up-and-coming Tulsa attorney was correct. Although a highly unique case, Bennett was able to updend the legal table to degree and win his client parental rights in a same sex divorce child custody case.
Though growing, to say same sex divorce child custody cases are commonplace in the Oklahoma judicial system would be an understatement.
“A really novel issue and a really interesting case,” Preston Bennett said. “The couple had been together for a while when they decided to have a child. The opposing party was artificially inseminated and gave birth while her and my client were together.
Four years into raising the child together, when the biological mother decided to file for divorce. The biological mother who was artificially inseminated by a sperm donor, also claimed that the other parent had no, parental rights.
“The reality is that claim was false, but it also has been 10 years since same-sex marriage became legal in Oklahoma,” Bennett said. “Needless to say, some unique circumstances have occurred since the law was put in place.”
Bennett did some research after initially meeting with his client and quickly came across a 2019 case that mirrored the situation his client was facing.
The case involved two parties, Lori Schnedler and Heather Nicole Lee. The outcome of the initial trial sided with Lee, the biological mother, stating the Schedler has no parental rights.
Schedler and her defense team appealed the verdict and took the case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court which reversed the ruling to award Schnedler parental rights.
“I think that ruling by the Supreme Court really signified, that we are in a new age, and we need to start adapting to fit with present times,” Preston Bennett said. “It takes wins like this for legislators to take action and pass laws.
As Preston Bennett likes to say, “Here at Fry & Elder, we believe in fighting for parents’ rights no matter, race, creed, or gender.”
Contact Fry & Elder today to set up a personal consultation with Preston Bennett.