Matter of Cabalquinto
100 Wn.2d, 669 P.2d 886 (1983)

  • Ernest and Cheryll were married and had a child (Michael). Then they broke up.
  • As part of the Colorado divorce decree, Cheryll was granted sole custody of Michael, and Ernest got liberal visitation rights.
  • Cheryll moved to Washington and Ernest moved to California. For a few years he would go up to Washington to visit Michael, but eventually wanted Michael to come visit him in California. Cheryll said no.
    • Cheryll had conveniently moved close to Ernest’s parents, so he visited Michael when he was at his parents’ house.
  • Ernest went to a Washington Court and asked them to interpret the Colorado decree to say that he could take Michael to California.
  • The Trial Court denied Ernest’s request. He appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that the current situation was in the best interests of the child, and were enough for Ernest and Michael to develop a close relationship without undue expense or inconvenience.
    • The Court put great weight on the fact that Ernest was gay.
      • “A child should be led in the way of heterosexual preference, not be tolerant of this homosexuality thing…It cannot do the boy any good to live in such an environment.”
    • The Court made no findings of how a visitation could endanger Michael’s physical, mental, or emotional health.
  • The Washington Supreme Court reversed and remanded.
    • The Washington Supreme Court found that a parent’s homosexuality was not an appropriate factor in making custody or visitation determinations.
      • Especially in this case, because the Trial Court based their decision on conjecture, not on conduct. They had no evidence that Michael would be damaged, or that Ernest would do anything inappropriate, they just assumed.
    • The Court found that the needs of the child (aka best interests) should be the determining factor.
      • In this case, the Trial Court did not determine best interests, so the case was remanded to determine where Michael’s best interests lay.
  • In a dissent it was argued that the Trial Court’s decision was so outrageous (aka an abuse of discretion) that the Court shouldn’t remand, they should simply overturn.