Mass. Supreme Judicial Court lays down limits on lesbian parental rights

Mass. Supreme Judicial Court lays down limits on lesbian parental rights

“SJC rules on parental rights of lesbians”

The state’s highest court ruled yesterday against a lesbian who sought to establish parental rights to the 5-year-old biological child of her former partner, because she did not adopt the child during the 18 months they were together after the infant’s birth.

The case reflects the Supreme Judicial Court’s view that same-sex couples who fall out of love while raising children must abide by the same legal rules as any other dissolving couples: What counts in the court system are birth certificates, marriage licenses, adoption papers, or proof that you share equally in the nurturing of the youngsters.

In a complex legal case that stretched over three years, a lesbian from Middlesex County put forward some novel legal theories to establish her parental role. She said she deserved to be a legal parent because she and her former partner had effectively formed an agreement to raise a child together. She also argued she should be, at least, a de facto parent with visitation rights, because what she lacked in time with the child she gave in money as the primary breadwinner.

Her case was backed by briefs from Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders of Boston, a legal rights group for gays and lesbians, and Fathers and Families, a father’s rights group that represents many divorced fathers.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli