Custody Battle Raises Questions About the Rights of Women
It is an unusual celebrity custody case, not centered on extravagant financial demands or questions about paternity. Both sides say they hope for “co-parenting,” but relations have been poisoned by what Ms. McKenna says is a steamroller campaign by Mr. Miller to push her to the margins and by what Mr. Miller calls the mother’s uncooperative behavior based on a quest for revenge.
They cannot even agree on what to call the boy. When he was born in New York on Feb. 23, Ms. McKenna pointedly gave the newborn Mr. Miller’s given names, registering him as Samuel Bode Miller-McKenna. She calls him Sam. Mr. Bode won permission from the California court to add Nathaniel as a middle name, in honor of his recently deceased brother, and he calls the boy Nate.
Women’s rights advocates called the early decisions, questioning Ms. McKenna’s behavior, a threat to the autonomy of pregnant women and applauded the appeals court reversal.
She met Mr. Miller in April 2012 through Kelleher International, with each expressing interest in finding a spouse, Ms. McKenna said in an interview last week at her university-owned apartment.
They dated for about a month and a half, she said, sometimes cooking dinner on the yacht where Mr. Miller lived at the time.
Ms. McKenna said she asked Mr. Miller to be an involved father, but he initially pushed her away. She released a text message from June in which Mr. Miller, explaining why he would not accompany her to an ultrasound, said, “U made this choice against my wish.”
Once the boy was born, Ms. McKenna filed in New York for temporary custody. But on May 30, a Family Court referee refused, rebuking Ms. McKenna for “unjustifiable conduct” and “forum shopping” and making the unusual decision to leave the case in California even though the baby was born and lived in New York.
While Ms. McKenna “did not ‘abduct’ the child,” the court said, “her appropriation of the child while in utero was irresponsible, reprehensible.”