April 05, 2006

Jenner & Block recently helped client Ulf Hedberg remove a court-ordered custody restriction that had prevented his same-sex life partner from living in the same household with Mr. Hedberg and his son.  Associates Scott B. Wilkens and Duane Pozza persuaded a Maryland court that the restriction was harmful to the client’s 13-year-old son, and that it is in the child’s best interest to reunite the trio.

The restriction was originally issued by a Virginia court in 2002 following Mr. Hedberg’s divorce, and awarded Mr. Hedberg physical custody of his son on the condition that his partner not live in the same household, even though there was no evidence to suggest that Mr. Hedberg’s partner was harmful to the child.  Mr. Hedberg and his son subsequently moved to Maryland, where he filed a petition to remove the restriction on the grounds that it had diminished the quality of the son’s life and deprived him of a stable two-parent home.  The Maryland trial court denied Mr. Hedberg’s petition, but the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed and remanded the decision to determine the best interest of the child.

After the appeal Messrs. Wilkens and Pozza joined the case on a pro bono basis.  Together with local counsel Susan Silber, and with the help of Jenner & Block paralegal Albert Peterson, they presented extensive evidence to the trial court about the negative impact of the restriction on the son and about the child’s positive relationship with Mr. Hedberg’s partner.  Among other things, the attorneys obtained discovery orders, interviewed and prepared witnesses for the evidentiary hearing, submitted the pretrial brief and conducted key witness examinations at the hearing.

After four years of separation, Mr. Hedberg and his partner are currently looking for a new home to share with Mr. Hedberg’s son.