Kantaras v. Kantaras, 884 So. 2d 155 - Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2004
Linda G. KANTARAS v. Michael J. KANTARAS
Rehearing Denied September 29, 2004.
Mathew D. Staver, Erik W. Stanley, and Anita L. Staver of Liberty Counsel, Longwood, for Appellant.
Rebecca Harrison Steele of Law Office of Rebecca Harrison Steele, P.A., Tampa; Karen M. Doering, Tampa; and Collin D. Vause, Clearwater, for Appellee.
- Type of Action
The Linda Kantaras Vs Michael Kantaras legal battle was a civil case. The case was judged based on the Florida Defense of Marriage Act of 1997. In the state of Florida, a marriage is considered legal when it involves a union between two members of the opposite sex (Constitution of the State of Florida, 1997). The law states that one of the parties has to be a male and the other a female but does not explain whether these genders should be strictly those of the marrying parties as at birth.
The case had been previously determined by the District Court of Florida. The psycholegal issue in the case regards reversal of a court decision on a marriage between a postoperative female-to-male transsexual person (Michael Kantaras) and a female (Linda Kantaras) (Kantaras & Kantaras, 2002). The issue of custody of children, biologically owned by Linda also comes into play although Linda got her second child through an artificial insemination using a sperm from Michael’s brother. Michael pushed for divorce and claimed custody of the children and it is then that Linda sought to have the courts declare their marriage as void (Kantaras & Kantaras, 2002).
Linda undergoes some psychological issues since the custody of her biological children is in question. The main psychological issues regard Michael who was born a female but was brought up as a male and even underwent medical procedures to fully transform into a male thereby denying him the irreversible ability to get children. The court’s ruling that he was illegally married to Linda brings about mental issues such as psychological deceit, cunningness, confusion, gender identity crisis among other issues. The psychological impacts of raising children in such a union also come into play and so does the best interests of those children.
- Facts of the Case
The facts of the case are; Michael was born a female but later underwent a sex change complete with the requisite medical surgeries. Secondly, Linda was aware of the transsexual changes that Michael had gone through at the point of marrying him under Florida’s state laws. Thirdly, Michael was not a biological parent to any of Linda’s children. Fourthly, Michael’s brother was the biological father of Linda’s daughter whom Michael was seeking adoption together with a son who rightfully belonged to Linda (Kantaras & kantaras, 2002). \
- Contentions of the Parties
The contentions by Michael are that although born a female, his growing up and subsequent medical procedures made him a complete male. He also attested that at the time of obtaining their marriage certificate, Linda was fully aware of his transsexual surgeries (Kantaras & kantaras, 2002). He also stated that he could have custody of the children because he had been legally married to Linda and was therefore entitled to fight for custody of the children. Linda’s contentions are that under Florida’s current laws Michael, who is neither the biological nor the legal father of her son, cannot adopt the son as it would violate the state’s law on homosexual adoption (Constitution of the State of Florida, 1997). Linda also asserted that their marriage was illegal from the very beginning because marriages involving transsexual person(s) are not contemplated under Florida’s laws (Constitution of the State of Florida, 1997).
The court interpreted the laws of the state correctly, and borrowed properly from similar decisions from American States that have laws about marriage that are similar to those of Florida. Specifically, the court borrowed from court decisions in Ohio, Kansas, Texas and New York. In all, the court based its decision on its interpretation of Florida’s laws allowing marriages to be strictly between “persons of the opposite sex” (Kantaras & kantaras, 2002). The court stated that these words imply that the gender (male or female) as at birth is the primary basis of one being considered fit for a legal marriage. The court outlawed “acquired” gender or transexualism as a condition for marriage under Florida’s laws and Michael comes out as a cunning person whose sole intention was to illegally acquire Linda’s children.
Going by the Delong Vs Delong case Linda should be granted full custody of the children. In the DeLong Vs Delong case, Fredrick DeLong sought full custody with limited visitation rights over children he had with Janice DeLong on grounds that her homosexual behaviors could adversely affect their children (Meyer & Weaver 2006). Although Fredrick was also involved in homosexuality, Janice’s increased frequency of engaging in the habit informed the judge’s decision that she ought to be denied custody of the children. The first case grated Fredrick’s request but an appeal by Janice allowed her more visitation rights but denied her custody of the children (Meyer & Weaver, 2006). Similarly, in the Kantaras Vs Kantaras case, Linda has not been shown to be a homosexual or exhibit behaviors that can adversely affect her children and so she should be granted full custody of the children and her marriage to Michael be declared void.
The decision to annul the marriage between Linda and Michael has several implications to the present and future of forensic psychology. The first implication is on the psychological safety and well being of transsexuals who may wish to engage in marriage. Psychologists look into how safely current laws protect such individuals from psychological turmoil resulting from annulled marriages and denial of custody over children. Most importantly however is the psychologists’ ability to tell cunningness and psychological games aimed at deceiving the courts from genuine cases especially where children custody is involved. Moreover, there are negative implications of raising children in marriages where there is parents are in a “hidden” homosexual union. Psychologically children raised in such a setting could face severe crisis in choosing their sexuality. It may also make such children the subjects of ridicule and bullying at school and in the community. Forensic psychology should guide lawmakers and the courts to make decisions that cause minimal psychological torture to all the parties involved in similar case.
The reasoning of the judges is that when Florida’s law about marriage states that it should be between “persons of the opposite sex” it meant “gender as at birth” and never contemplated transsexual status as a qualification for a legal marriage. After appeal the marriage was declared as being void. Although, the issue of transsexuals has been recognized in the constitution, it was not applicable at this point. Although, Michael did not show any secondary female trait, the law never recognized Michael as a man; he was denied the chance to become the father to Linda’s Children.
The parenting issues in this case regard the appropriateness of child custody placement with a transsexual/homosexual parent or couple. Parenting issues present in the Kantaras Vs Kantaras case regard the imminent possibility that as Linda and Michael’s children grow up they might come to discover that their parents are in a “homosexual” union. The fact that the children might come to discover that their father was born a female may bring the children unknown consequences. Legal decisions concerning the legality of the marriage between Linda and Michael run hand in hand with parental issues such as the safety, moral guidance and upbringing of the children and whether their parent’s sexuality affects the children’s’ lives.
According to Linda there is another serious parenting issue. Michael’s adoption of Linda’s son violated the state’s and by extension state parental guidelines which ban homosexual adoption. It was improper for children to be raised by a parent who had transsexual issues. Parenting issues such as giving the children guidance on sexuality could be compromised and the transsexual parent may guide the children to accept certain sexuality issues and activities that are deemed immoral.
Regardless of whether a child s raised by a heterosexual or homosexual parent/s the best interest of children are that they be provided with all the basic necessities of life and offered happiness and contentment as they grow. Moreover, they need proper parental guidance to help them exploit their talents and to grow to achieve their full potential in life. Where one or both of the parents is/are considered to be homosexuals (as is the assertion by Linda about Michael’s sexuality) the children’s welfare should be weighed against the adverse effects of such unions. According Meyer and Weaver (2006), the homosexual activity is itself immoral, homosexuality lifestyles include additional immoral and deviant components such as increased promiscuity, exposure of such activities to children is detrimental to child development and that children raised in homosexual settings will be detrimentally exposed to their parent’s activities.
Going by the kantaras Vs kantaras case presented in court, there is no evidence as to whether the children were adversely affected by their parent’s sexualities. As such, the best interests of the children should be continual protection of their innocence and that they should never be placed in a setting where they are unwillingly predisposed to become homosexuals of have issues with their morality and sexuality. The children should for now be placed with the mother who is legally and biologically their parent. Michael is neither the children’s biological nor legal father going by the most recent judicial decision and as such the children face lesser court battles when they are in custody of their mother.
- Rule of Law
Rule of law is the restriction of subjective exercise of power by matching it to well-dictated and established laws. Psycho-legal perspective defines rule of law as the self conscience towards legal restrictions. The rule of law with regard to forensic psychology as it relates to this case is that psychologists should never be engage in dual relationships with their clients. Forensic psychologists should adhere to the Psychology Code of Ethics and act in the best interest of all the parties involved. Most importantly, psychologists should ensure that such cases are resolved to maintain maximum mental health of all the involved parties.
The courts should be very clear on civil issues especially those affecting family issues such as divorce and the custody of children. Regardless of the clarity of the laws of the state, the courts should prioritize the best interest of children involved in a family legal battle. The courts should ask the legislature to formulate laws that comprehensively address family issues. This will allow for easy and less strenuous settlements of family issues. With more states allowing for same-sex marriages and others outlawing such unions completely, the courts should establish very clear guidelines on the cases that they ought to refer to in determining family legal issues on homosexual unions or those deemed to be so. Most importantly, the courts should be able to differentiate between genuine fight for child custody from insincere and psycholegal cases as presented by Michael kantaras.
Constitution of the State of Florida: as revised in 1968 and subsequently amended. (1985). Tallahassee: Distributed by Dept. of State.
Kantaras, M. J., & Kantaras, L. (2002). In re: the marriage of Michael J. Kantaras, petitioner, vs. Linda Kantaras, respondent in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pasco County, Florida, Case no: 98-5375CA Division F. Clearwater, Fla.: Robert A. Dempster & Associates, Official Court Reporters.
Meyer, R. G., & Weaver, C. M. (2006).Law and mental health: a case-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.