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Child support and custody issues in same-sex divorces

One Supreme Court in another state is tasked with deciding whether a former spouse from a same-sex marriage has parental rights. The case is not being heard in California, but the decision could possibly impact similar cases that may be filed here. The woman in the center of this case has been paying child support for two children and is seeking to be considered a parent of at least one.

The couple in this case married in 2009. At some point in the early stages of their union, they made the joint decision to attempt to have a child through assisted reproduction. An anonymous donor was selected, and one of the women was impregnated through surgical means. The pregnancy was successful, and a child was born into the union. In 2013, the couple separated and later filed for divorce.

The court granted the divorce in 2016. However, it did not confer parental rights to the former spouse who did not give birth to the child. She has been paying support, and a judge did grant visitation rights but denied that she was entitled to be listed as a parent. Parties who have an interest in the on-going lawsuit are divided on the issue.

The judge in the first case stated that it is biologically impossible for two women to be parents of a child, and that is what lead to the decision to deny the petition for parental rights. Others have argued that the paying of child support and providing other care for a child is a more important aspect of parenthood and that married heterosexual couples who conceive a child through these means are automatically given these rights. It is unclear when the court will render its decision in this matter. California residents who are unable to resolve a dispute concerning child support, child custody or other related issues are entitled to seek the guidance of an experienced family court attorney.

Source:, "Court arguments: Does a same-sex divorce spouse has parental rights?", Jimmie E. Gates, Nov. 28, 2017

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