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MountainLaurel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-20-08 09:04 AM
Original message
WP: Court Denies Parental Status of Ex-Partners (same-sex couple)
Edited on Tue May-20-08 09:04 AM by MountainLaurel
Maryland's highest court ruled yesterday that someone who lives with and helps raise a child before a relationship with the child's legal parent dissolves has virtually no rights to custody or visitation, in a decision that disappointed advocates for same-sex couples.

By reversing two lower courts that ruled in favor of a Baltimore County woman who sought custody or visitation rights with a girl adopted by her ex-partner, the Court of Appeals held that Maryland does not recognize de facto parenthood. Instead, the court ruled, the person claiming to be a de facto parent must prove "exceptional circumstances" to gain visitation rights over a legal parent's objection.

"Even if we were to recognize some form of de facto parenthood," the majority in the 6 to 1 decision wrote, "the real question in the case . . . will remain, whether . . . a third party, non-biological, non-adoptive parent . . . should be treated differently from other third parties. We have not been persuaded that they should be."

The court returned the case to the Baltimore County Circuit Court to decide, using the new standard, whether the woman who brought the case, referred to in court papers as Margaret K., should have visitation rights with the girl, Maya.

Apparently Maryland has started to compete with Virginia to see who can get back to the 19th century first.

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Rhythm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-20-08 10:44 AM
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1. And this is diametrically opposite of the court case here in WV in 2005

CHARLESTON, WV -- The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded the decision of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals not to separate a five-year-old boy from his lesbian mother following the tragic death of her partner, the child's biological mother.

The ACLU of West Virginia and the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Tina Burch after a lower court denied her custody of the boy she considers her son. Now, for the first time, a West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has recognized the standing of a gay or lesbian parent to seek recognition as a psychological parent.

"The Court, in its wisdom and compassion, has recognized Tina Burch for what she is: the surviving parent of a little boy who has already lost one of his mothers," said Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of the ACLU of West Virginia. "She and her lawyer, James Douglas, have won an important victory for children and families."

After entering into a committed relationship, Burch and her partner, Christina Smarr, decided to have a child together. The couple agreed that Smarr would carry the child and on December 25, 1999, Smarr gave birth to their son. The couple raised the child and Burch's biological daughter together as a family until Smarr was tragically killed in an automobile accident on June 1, 2002.

Following Smarr's death, her parents sought to take custody of the little boy. The family court found Burch to be the child's "psychological parent" -- one who, while not related biologically or through adoption, has lived with the child and functioned as a parent -- and awarded custody to Burch with visitation rights for the grandparents. The Circuit Court, the state's intermediate appeals court, reversed the trial judge's ruling, removing the child from a parent he had lived with since birth and giving custody instead to his grandparents.

The Circuit Court refused to apply the psychological parent doctrine in the context of a lesbian couple. Today's decision overturned that ruling. "Simply stated," the court said, "the child's best interests would best be served by awarding permanent custody of to Tina B."

"Today, West Virginia's Supreme Court of Appeals has recognized the most basic tenets of family law -- serving the best interests of the child and preserving family stability and unity," said Terri Baur, staff attorney for the ACLU of West Virginia Foundation.

Thank goodness some places have some friggin' sense...
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MountainLaurel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-20-08 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Damn, when WV is being more progressive than your state
You know you're in trouble. (Although I am tickled to see this sort of decision there!)
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Rhythm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-20-08 11:17 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. ... and that was with Don Blankenship's "bought and paid for" bench...
We'll have an even more reasonable state Supreme Court after the November election!

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Ayesha Donating Member (587 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-20-08 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
4. This sucks, BUT
Why on earth didn't the second partner adopt the child after the first adoption was finalized? A few states don't allow it, but most do. If it wasn't possible, some sort of guardianship arrangement, SOMETHING to establish that both women intended to be parents to the child. My partner and I would never have children if we both couldn't be legal mothers to them. To me, this case could easily be seen as a step-parent relationship. Step-parents, no matter how close they may be to a child, don't have parental rights unless they do an adoption. This case was pure irresponsibility on the part of the mothers involved, IMO.
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