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Appeals court rules against Tennessee man in child custody case

A 31-year-old Iraq war veteran who has raised a now 6-year-old boy since infancy received a setback from the Tennessee Court of Appeals last month. The ruling, which was only the latest development in a nearly 5-year-old child custody dispute involving the former soldier and the child’s biological mother, essentially ordered a Blount County juvenile court to honor a prior Texas judgment stating that the man is not the child’s biological father.

Exactly how the former soldier who is not related to the boy by blood, marriage or adoption came to have custody of the child in the first place is another story altogether and has also been disputed.

The boy’s birth mother, who now lives in rural Idaho with her three other children, says the man who has been raising her son in Tennessee all this time somehow managed to get himself named as the father on the boy’s birth certificate and that she didn’t notice because she was still impaired by anesthesia. She claims that he and his wife at the time then took the baby but police refused to do anything because McMillan was named as the father on the birth certificate.

The man, however, says the birth mother gave the baby to him and his former wife — a cousin of the boy’s biological father who — because she couldn’t afford to provide for the child. Unfortunately, instead of completing a legal adoption process, the birth mother agreed to list him as the child’s father and be present for the boy’s birth. He and his wife separated a short time later and he has been raising the boy as a single father ever since.

(The former wife says that’s how it happened too. The biological father, for those interested, has an extensive prison record and is currently serving time in California.)

Last month’s ruling gives the birth mother superior child custody rights for the time being, but the father said he plans to appeal the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Source:, “Custody fight over Maryville boy continues,” Sheila Burke, May 17, 2012


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