Several months after Judge Kim Cooks granted Jeff Younger and Anne Georgulas joint managing conservatorship over James Younger and his twin brother, the ruling was made official in an order by Judge Mary Brown of the 301st Family District Court on Wednesday.
Younger and Georgulas have been embroiled in a legal battle about how to raise their son, who the mother says is a transgender girl.
During the trial in October, Younger contended that he wanted to take an approach of “watchful waiting” by not prompting a “social transition” for James to present himself as a girl in public places, such as school.
Georgulas, in contrast, has been taking steps of “social affirmation” to his alleged female identity, as recommended by some therapists who diagnosed James with gender dysphoria.
Younger was particularly concerned because medical notes saying that James would be referred to the GENECIS clinic in Dallas so that a potential medical transition could be explored, though Georgulas’s lawyers repeatedly stated that no medical transition was immediately being considered.
An in-depth report on the jury trial from The Texan can be found here.
The jury was charged with two questions: first, should the current joint managing conservatorship change to a sole managing conservatorship? And second, should Younger be the sole managing conservator?
The jury answered “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second.
Afterward, Cooks’ verdict kept the joint managing conservatorship in place and gave the parents joint decision-making over medical care, among other modifications to the conservatorship.
Cooks also appointed Stacy Dunlop, who had served as the amicus attorney in the case, to be the parenting coordinator.
She noted in her ruling, “If the parents cannot come to an agreement, they will make an appointment with Stacy Dunlop, the parenting coordinator, who will resolve the dispute by making a decision on behalf of the parents if they still disagree after discussing the disagreement.”
Georgulas objected to the ruling, and filed motions with the court to conform to the jury verdict and to have Cooks recused from the case.
After a recusal hearing in December, Cooks was removed from the case and replaced with Judge Brown.
At the hearing on Wednesday, Brown accepted the father’s motion to enter the order in accordance with Cooks’ ruling, and denied Georgulas’ motion to conform to the jury verdict.
Georgulas’ lawyer contended that Cooks’ ruling was improper because the jury “essentially” said that Georgulas should be the sole managing conservator in the case.
Younger’s lawyer countered that the only authority of the jury was to decide if the father should be granted sole managing conservatorship and that all other questions were left to the purview of Cooks.
Dunlop agreed with Younger, noting that the court should not assume that the jury wanted the mother to be the sole managing conservator — they might have thought a third party could be the sole managing conservator.
Brown also denied a motion from the mother to disqualify Dunlop from being the parenting coordinator.
Georgulas’ lawyer gave two primary reasons for this argument, emphasizing that they took no personal issue with Dunlop in the role.
Rather, she contended that Cooks’ provision for the parenting coordinator to make “a decision on behalf of the parents” is problematic because it conflicts with the statutory responsibilities of a parenting coordinator — they are supposed to act more as a mediator than a judge.
Furthermore, they contended that it would be improper for Dunlop to serve as both the amicus attorney and the parenting coordinator.
Dunlop also expressed his wish to remain both the amicus attorney and the parenting coordinator.
Brown denied this motion, though, noting that it was standard procedure for the role of an amicus attorney to be dissolved following the end of a trial.
While the order was officially entered and marks a legal ending point for this part of the heated dispute, the mother’s attorney expressed intention of appealing the order since her motions were denied.
Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. While recently finishing his degree in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University, he also interned in the U.S. Senate and co-authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. In his spare time, he might be reading up on Dostoevsky or attempting to write a novel.