MARCH 22 2012 18:29h

Lesbian judge wins custody of children

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SANTIAGO, Chile, March 22 (UPI) -- Karen Atala, an openly gay judge in Chile, has finally won back custody of her three daughters after a nearly eight-year court fight, officials say.

Atala, 48, was stripped of custody of her children in 2004 when she revealed she is a lesbian. The Chilean Supreme Court ruled her children would be in "a situation of risk" that may "damage their psychic development."

However, Tuesday's reversal of that ruling rewarded her custody and $60,000 for pain and suffering. She will also be awarded $12,000 to cover legal fees. Atala only received 10 percent of what she asked for in her lawsuit.

The ruling found the Chilean Supreme Court to be in violation of several principles when it ruled to remove Atala's daughters from her home. Atala's lawyer, Jorge Contesse, ex-director of the Center of Human Rights for the Universidad de Diego Portales, said the 2004 ruling had done untold damage to the family.

"Today, this damage, irreparable as it is, has to some extent been offset," Contesse told The Santiago Times.

Atala's three daughters will return home with her to live with their mother, Atala's partner, historian Emma de Ramon.