Thursday, July 10, 2003

Parents haggle over Justin's visitation



By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The final resolution of a two-state custody battle might hinge on how frequently Justin Moore's biological parents, a Burlington couple, can see the 6-year-old boy now living in Ohio.

Biological parents Regina Moore and Jerry Dorning have spent five years trying to get the child back. Because of a June decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court, they said last week they'd be willing to surrender permanent custody if they could see Justin regularly.

Today, their attorneys should receive a counteroffer from Rich and Cheryl Asente, the Girard, Ohio, couple that successfully adopted Justin's full biological brother, Joey, 7.

A spokeswoman said the Asentes will gladly assume permanent custody of Justin, but they want more restrictive visitation in place.

Moore and Dorning wanted to visit up to four times a year, for days at a time. The Asentes are willing to let them visit up to two days per month.

"This is a really good sign that everybody is coming to be on the same page. There may be some more negotiating. But I don't expect it to take a very long time. There has been enough time that has passed," said the Asentes' spokeswoman, Debbie Grabarkiewicz.

Said Stephanie Dietz, a lawyer for the biological parents: "I'm optimistic. Obviously, they think it is important for Justin to have a relationship with" Moore and Dorning.

She said the biological parents, an unmarried couple, started negotiations because they didn't want to risk a hearing the Kentucky Supreme Court ordered last month.

They were fearful, Dietz said, that a hearing could make the case drag on and perhaps extinguish any hope of them seeing Justin again.

E-mail svela@enquirer.com




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