Same-sex couples nationwide, including in Massachusetts, might have noticed that some legal aspects of family law need more attention in order to bring consistency. In an ongoing case about the parental rights of each partner of a former same-sex couple in another state, the justice commented that lawmakers were in uncharted waters when it comes to same-sex family law. Each case involving same-sex parents and children born from sperm donations or surrogacy present unique challenges, and litigation results sometimes seem to reflect the personal opinions of the presiding judges.
In a five-year relationship between two women, one became pregnant with the help of donated sperm. The other partner assisted in raising the child until the relationship ended in 2011. All ties between the two women were cut, and the mother who gave birth to the child entered into a marriage with a man. He now wants to adopt the child, and the ex-partner wants to prevent the adoption. She claims parental rights over the child.
The biological mother claims her former partner has no biological connection, and she was no more than a babysitter while they were together. The state appeals court overturned an earlier family court ruling for the non-biological partner. Similar issues have produced varying results in courts across the country, and in a similar case in which a non-biological spouse was granted the right to prevent an adoption, a legal document existed in which the issue was addressed at the time of the child’s birth.
When a Massachusetts same-sex couple decides to have a child, there will always be one of the partners whose rights may be compromised. Regardless of whether the couple is married or in a domestic partnership, the experience of an attorney who focuses on same-sex family law may ensure the rights of both parents are protected. Being proactive and getting the legalities in place before the relationship becomes rocky may help avoid litigation that may be traumatic for both parents and the child.
Source: startribune.com, “Kentucky court to decide: Can woman intervene in adoption of former same-sex partner’s child?”, Adam Beam, Dec. 10, 2015