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According to court, child support is not only test of parenthood

A recent case came before a court that was seen as a test of what makes one a parent. Regardless of whether one is under orders to pay child support, the changes in the definition of family over the past decade has lead to some confusion over the roles of individuals in the lives of children. Since the United States Supreme Court has affirmed the rights of same-sex couples to marry, there may be families here in California who also have questions concerning the definition of parenthood.

The test case was tried in another state and involved the issue of parenting rights of an adopted child. The couple involved had discussed and began the process of an international adoption. However, before the application had been approved, the women decided to end their relationship. The younger woman, who initiated the process, continued with the process.

Once she had received approval and flew to the child's country to bring him home, her former partner began to take on an active role in the child's life. The women decided that the older woman's role would be defined as godmother. Over the next few years, the adoptive mother allowed her son to spend time with his godmother as their schedules allowed. When the mother and child made plans to move to England, the godmother filed for shared custody rights on the premise that she was a co-mother.

The case lasted several months and included dozens of witnesses and emails, which each side used in an effort to prove their case. After months of deliberations, the judge ruled that the godmother did not, in fact, share parenting duties. The case has been appealed, and the mother and son are waiting to see if they will be permitted to leave the United States in the future. Many saw this case as an opportunity to redefine what makes a parent as even individuals who are not adoptive or biological parents have been ordered to pay child support. California families who are struggling with these family law issues may seek guidance from an experienced professional.

Source: The New Yorker, "What Makes a Parent?", Ian Parker, May 15, 2017

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