PHOENIX -- Thomas and Nancy Beatie took the stand in a Maricopa County courtroom Thursday as they try to get a divorce. But a judge might not be able to grant it.
Thomas started life as Tracy, a woman, and also had three children, but has been living as a man since the late '90s. The judge has questioned whether the Beaties are in a same-sex marriage, which Arizona doesn’t recognize.
Despite the buzz surrounding their unique situation, the facts of the case seem all too routine.
“I'm their primary caregiver,” Thomas said on the stand. “I gave birth to them. I'm their father.”
That's not something you hear from a father. But Beatie did give birth to his three children. His wife of more than a decade, Nancy, legally adopted them. Now the two are in court fighting over the kids as they head toward divorce.
“I raised the children basically by myself,” Nancy said during her testimony. “Because he was in his office day trading, or whatever he does in his office, until 10 months ago, until he took them away from me."
If you get past the strangeness of Thomas being a mother because of biology and a father by choice, this divorce is probably like a lot of others.
It's ugly. And full of accusations of stealing and bad parenting as they separated.
“We went through a lot,” Thomas said of he and the children. “They witnessed domestic violence with Nancy hitting me and episodes of her intoxication.”
“It's definitely hurting me again,” Nancy told the judge. “He's done everything to try to make me struggle and this is making me struggle.”
Both say they want to move on, but last year, a judge questioned whether the two were ever legally married in Arizona. Both were born women, but Thomas has lived as a man during their entire marriage.
There was no discussion of that at this hearing, only dividing property and what's best for the kids.
“It keeps going like this in court,” Nancy told us. “Back and forth. But I'm their mother, a great parent, great momma, and I can't wait to get this over with.”
The end may be in sight. The judge indicated he should rule on the divorce before the end of February.