Appeals court orders child custody hearing for same-sex couple
These days, families come in all shapes and sizes. When the family includes a non-traditional structure, issues like child custody and divorce can sometimes prove to be difficult. In a recent ruling, an appeals court in another state has ruled that a lower court judge had to give parental rights to the second mother in a two-mother family. This case might prove to be of interest to Virginia residents in a same-sex relationship involving children.
In 2012, a Circuit Court judge granted the adoption of the couple's child by the non-birth mother. The two women had lived together for years, and when one woman got pregnant, they both wanted the other woman to adopt the baby. When the mothers split up, the birth mom petitioned a different judge to nullify the adoption.
The judge did nullify the adoption per the birth mother's request; however, the appeals court ruled in a 3-0 decision that the judge was wrong to nullify the adoption of the 6-year-old boy.
A judge noted that children deserve better and that it was wrong for the birth mother to try to destroy the child's relationship with the other mother after asking the court to grant the adoption in the first place. The child recognizes both women as parents, and both women are listed on the birth certificate since the adoption was granted.
The lower court has been ordered to hold hearing to develop a parenting plan for the child, just as would be the procedure with any other child custody case. Child custody, child support and visitation are all points that should be covered.
This case is important for same-sex couples who are dealing with an adoption issue. It proves that the birth mother isn't in complete control of the situation if an adoption is granted and the relationship later dissolves between the parents. Anyone who is facing child custody issues should be aware of applicable state laws so he or she can properly prepare a case that considers the child's best interest.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Daytona appeals court upholds lesbian mom's right to adopt" Rene Stutzman and Susan Jacobson, May. 23, 2014
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