ANN ARBOR, Mich. — College student Jennifer Ireland on Wednesday regained custody of the daughter who had been taken away because Ireland put her in day care.
The state Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that Maranda Ireland Smith, 4, be placed in the custody of her father, Ireland's ex-boyfriend. Maranda had remained with her mother pending the appeal.
Maranda's father, Steven Smith, 21, sued for custody in 1993, saying the girl would be better off with him because his own mother, a full-time housewife, could care for the child.
In 1994, in a ruling that outraged women's groups, Circuit Judge Raymond Cashen gave Smith custody, saying the little girl would be better off with her father than with "strangers."
The appeals court sent the case back to the Circuit Court and told the lower court not to consider day care in deciding custody. It also ordered a different judge to hear the case.
"Just knowing that Maranda is going to stay with me, it's the best feeling that anyone could possibly have," Ireland said.
"Judge Cashen's ruling had to be overturned, or else it would have sent shock waves to every single parent who works and uses day care," said Howard Simon of the Michigan ACLU.