Melissa Etheridge's Ex Seeks Full Custody of Twins as Their Split Takes Nasty Turn

Filed under: Celeb Parents, In The News, Celeb News & Interviews

Singer Melissa Etheridge and partner Tammy Lynn Michaels in 2007. Credit: AP


Singer Melissa Etheridge tried to put a slight smile on her divorce from former actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, saying their decision to split was mutual.

Turns out ... not so much.

Michaels is seeking full custody of the couple's 3-year-old twins and airing some dirty laundry from the union through comments on her blog.

She tells readers she was "blindsided" by Etheridge's decision to split, and that the singer cares more about her guitar, fans and fame than being a good mother and partner.

Michaels and Etheridge were never legally married. They had a domestic partnership, holding a marriage ceremony in 2001, but it was mostly symbolic and did not carry the weight of a legal marriage.

Michaels' attorney, Steve Knowles, tells People magazine the ceremony was nonetheless important to his client.

"Frankly, she thought it would be better for the children if they were recognized as children of a married couple," he tells the magazine.

Legal recognition of domestic partnership in California dates back to 1999. Same-sex marriages were briefly recognized by the state following a California Supreme Court decision in June of 2008. Voters passed a measure to ban same-sex marriage five months later.

However, marriages performed during that five-month window remain legally valid.

Whether or not a same-sex couple is "married" or has a domestic partnership has little bearing on custody in California, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

The gay rights organization reports the state's courts typically don't consider sexual orientation in custody cases. The California Supreme Court ruled that when a same-sex couple deliberately has a child through assisted reproduction (as in the case of Etheridge and Michaels), both partners are the legal parents.

Michaels and Etheridge had their twins, Johnnie Rose and Miller Steven, with sperm from an anonymous donor. Etheridge also has two children, Bailey Jean and Beckett, from a previous relationship with Julie Cypher (with sperm donated by singer David Crosby).

People magazine reports Michaels wants full legal and physical custody of the twins, with Etheridge allowed visitation. Michaels also wants spousal support, according to the magazine.

Etheridge, in turn, asks the court to deny spousal support for Michaels.

Related: Massachusetts Fathers Fighting Custody Injustice or a Phantom Menace?

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