Cross-state complications arise in Olympian’s child custody case

As the clock ticks down toward the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, many athletes have only one thing on their mind: winning the gold medal. However, one famous athlete, however, has something else to concern him. Bode Miller, a gold medalist skier, has been locked in a contentious child custody battle since before his child was born. The boy is now 9 months old.

The legal troubles started when Miller’s now ex-girlfriend, Sara McKenna, was seven months pregnant. Both Miller and McKenna had been living in southern California when McKenna made the apparently sudden decision to move to New York. McKenna claimed the decision was driven by her desire to fulfil her dream to attend Columbia University. Miller contended that she intentionally left before the couple could sign a co-parenting agreement, and chose to go to a state whose laws would favor her side in a child custody battle.

Initially, a family court referee in New York agreed with Miller, sending the child custody case back to California. A court in California sided with Miller and his new wife, granting primary custody to them. McKenna appealed, however, and the appellate court ruled that the case should never have been taken out of New York.

This week, the case returned to the New York courtroom, with the child is now in the temporary custody of his mother. Both parents say they want to arrange a co-parenting agreement, but they cannot agree on who should maintain primary custody. A new hearing was scheduled in New York on December 9 to continue the proceedings. As with many contentious child custody cases, there is no telling how long this one will take.

In the end, however, the result will be a decision that suits the best interests of the child, one that ensures his health, safety and opportunities for personal growth. As in all child custody cases, the difficulty lies in determining exaclty what that solution looks like.


NBC News, “Olympic skier Bode Miller loses round in battle over custody of baby son” Victoria Cavaliere, Nov. 25, 2013