Ruling after an eight-day trial, a judge in Sarasota said that the couple who lost Kimberly in the accidental baby-switch, Ernest and Regina Twigg, should no longer have any contact with her. The judge stopped short, however, of granting Kimberly a formal 'divorce' from the pair.
The Twiggs had been seeking visiting rights in the case. But, referring to the couple, Judge Stephen Dakan ruled that the 'effect of this judgment is that the plaintiffs have no legal interest in or rights to Kimberly Mays'. He confirmed the status of Robert Mays as her father. During testimony earlier this month, Kimberly made it clear she wanted nothing to do with her biological mother. She said of the Twiggs: 'I want them out of my life. I want my life back.'
The ruling implies that minors in America can, in certain circumstances, determine who should bring them up, even to the extent of rejecting parents who conceived them. The Twiggs, however, vowed in the court to pursue appeals until the day Kimberly turns 18.
Already the subject of a television mini-series, the tale began with the 1978 baby mix-up, when Robert Mays took Kimberly home while his own baby was claimed by the Twiggs. The mistake was discovered by the Twiggs in 1988 when their girl died of a heart ailment, and genetic testing showed that she was offspring of the Mays and that Kimberly was their natural child.
In 1990 Mr Mays reneged on an agreement to allow occasional visits between Kimberly and the Twigg family on the grounds that the visits were disrupting her schoolwork and personal development. His decision to retaliate prompted the Twiggs to seek custody in the courts.
'It was a pure situation of psychology versus biology - and the court made it clear where it comes down,' said George Rush, one of Kimberly's attorneys, after the ruling. 'The Twiggs can appeal if they want, but I hope they show more maturity and wisdom than they have in the past.'