LEXINGTON, Ky. – Two gay men who made worldwide news by parenting quadruplets and then a fifth child with a surrogate mother have been fighting for custody and time sharing of the quads for more than a year, court records revealed Thursday.

Moreover, Michael Meehan, the 3-year-olds’ biological father, alleges in court documents that the couple actually ended their same-sex partner relationship two months before the quad babies were born in Lexington in 2002. However, Meehan said they continued to share expenses and purchased and shared a home and business.

Also, Meehan alleges that Thomas Dysarz started dating someone else in the summer of 2003 and brought the man to live with the babies and Meehan. Dysarz contends that he and Meehan had a committed relationship for a longer period than Meehan is acknowledging.

Dysarz had been seeking custody and time sharing of the quadruplets. Meehan, an attorney, is not seeking visitation with the fifth child.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Thursday dismissed Dysarz’ appeal of a Fayette Circuit Court decision that said he did not qualify as a “person acting as a parent” under Kentucky law and had no standing to bring a custody action.

Court of Appeals records made public portions of the court case that had been sealed since it was filed by Dysarz in June 2004.

The court case included a ruling from Fayette Family Court Judge Kim Bunnell. It said that, in regard to the quadruplets, Dysarz did not assume the role of a parent, but stood “alongside the biological parent.”

In a 2004 court document, Meehan argued that “there is no prejudice to Thomas by virtue of his sexual identity, as the standard is applied across the board to step-parents, grandparents, day-care providers and others.”

Dysarz said Thursday – and the Court of Appeals order confirms – that the appeal was dismissed because Dysarz didn’t want to pursue it any longer.

Dysarz said Thursday night that he was taking the matter out of the courts and putting it into “Jesus’ hands.” In March, Dysarz’s request that the case be transferred from the Court of Appeals to the state Supreme Court was denied, records released Thursday show.

A motion filed by Dysarz’s attorney in March speaks to the potential effect of the case on Kentucky law: “This appeal addresses the power of Kentucky courts to fashion equitable remedies to dispense justice to all Kentucky families.”

Meehan currently has custody of his biological children – the three boys and one girl born to Meehan and surrogate mother Brooke Verity on July 26, 2002.

Dysarz said that Meehan had moved to Atlanta, Ga. Meehan could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Dysarz said Thursday night that he and Verity have an informal time-sharing agreement in regard to Brandon Lane Dysarz, now 19 1/2 months old, the one child he conceived with Verity.

Verity, the surrogate mother who gave birth to all five children, is from Jessamine County. She, could not be reached for comment.

Verity, who has three children of her own, initially agreed to conceive a child with Meehan because she thought he and Dysarz would be good parents, she has said. The men met in California in 1998 and moved together to Kentucky, where they opened three Planet Salon stores.

Verity has said she entered into another in-vitro pregnancy with Dysarz so that all the children could be biological siblings. Verity’s separate contracts with each biological father did not include the other partner.

Verity and the men have repeatedly made headlines since deciding to have the babies.

In November 2002, anti-gay Kansas minister Fred Phelps traveled to Lexington to protest the quadruplets’ baptism at the Cathedral of Christ the King. In response, some Central Kentucky residents rallied around the men and launched a counter-demonstration, the Rally for a Hate-Free Lexington.

Dysarz was arrested Jan. 17 after an alleged physical altercation left his former partner, Nathan Stein, with a split lip and bite marks on his finger, but Dysarz said those charges have been dismissed.

Thursday’s ruling shows that perhaps the most intense strife was between the men themselves.

In court documents, Dysarz maintains that he became a parent and caretaker to the quadruplets while the men lived together. Dysarz said the quadruplets were several months old before he began a relationship with a new same-sex partner.

Meehan says he was responsible for almost all the care and any costs associated with the children, according to court records.

Meehan says that he and Dysarz were simply roommates and business partners, and that Dysarz already had a new boyfriend in July 2003 when Meehan and Dysarz bought a home together in Lexington, according to court records.

Dysarz and his new partner at first lived with Meehan and the quads, but then in February 2004 moved into a home that Meehan and Dysarz formerly shared on the Kentucky River in Clark County, court records show.

Since that time, Meehan says in court documents, his quads and Meehan’s child are no longer being raised as half-siblings and the men “have not kept the children within close proximity of each other.”

Meehan initially allowed Dysarz short daytime visits with the quadruplets, but began refusing when “Thomas’ behavior became so verbally abusive and violent that Michael sought the protection of the court by filing an emergency protective order,” which would have put constraints on contact between the two men, court records said.

Bunnell ruled in June 2004 that there was “insufficient evidence” to issue a domestic violence order.

That same month, Dysarz went to court to get visitation with the quadruplets. At first, Bunnell granted Dysarz three hours twice a week, but terminated those arrangements once she decided that Dysarz had no legal standing.

Verity, meanwhile, maintains legal custody of all five children as the biological mother.

In 2003, Verity tried unsuccessfully in Jessamine County Circuit Court to terminate her parental rights to the quadruplets. An attorney appointed by the court to represent the quadruplets said in a report that Verity should remain their legal mother.

The attorney’s report said the quads needed a mother and a father.

(c) 2005, Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.).

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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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