What happens with child custody in same-sex unions?
Same-sex marriage is legal in some states, and that has some implications. With marriage comes divorce, and with divorce comes child custody battles. But even same-sex couples who are not married go through child custody disputes, and one recently made headlines.
One woman says she and her partner decided to have a baby several years ago. The woman apparently really wanted to be a mother, helped with the pregnancy, and cared for the girl as a mom would. But she didn’t actually give birth to her; her partner did.
And, the Ohio Supreme Court says, means she is not the girl’s “mother.” The court ruled in a 4-3 decision recently that the child’s only parent is her biological one – the woman’s partner who gave birth to her.
The women had lived together as a couple and spent $12,000 for an in-vitro procedure. The partner who gave birth to the girl apparently said she wanted the woman to have parental rights to the child, but it was never put in writing in a binding contract. So, when the women broke up, that’s when the custody dispute began.
The court ruled that a nonparent has no constitutional parental rights. The decision could affect future situations involving people who raise children who are not theirs biologically. That group could include same-sex partners, grandparents, live-in partners and step-parents.
One justice did disagree with the decision; the other two who voted against it merely said the law in place speaks for itself. But the dissenting justice disagreed with the court’s reasoning, saying that the law has not completely caught up with today’s family culture.
Source: Cincinnati.com, “Court rules against lesbian ‘co-parent’ in custody fight,” Kimball Perry, 13 July 2011
The Law Center PC