People in Colorado and across the nation waited anxiously this summer as the U.S. Supreme Court mulled over the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage. Although the bans have been lifted, they still could have an impact on child custody. In one out-of-state case, a former couple whose relationship ended before the Supreme Court issued a ruling are both fighting for custody of children who were a product of their relationship.
The two women began a relationship in 2001. Over the course of their relationship, they bought two homes together. One of the women, who is currently 41 years old, gave birth to two daughters through the use of a sperm donor. Those children are now 10 and 7 and bear the last name of both women. Additionally, both women claim that they were each the primary caregiver and that the children called both of them "Mom."
Unfortunately, the relationship ended in Dec. 2014 before the ruling that ended the ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan, where the women live. Because the women weren't married, the rights of the non-biological parent are in question. However, the biological mother claims that her former partner should not have those rights and is requesting to move to a different part of the state. A judge must now determine whether the non-biological mother has legal rights being that the two women were not legally allowed to marry.
Child custody cases involving same-sex couples can often be complex. Judges are left to balance the best interests of the children involved with the existing law. Parents must make a compelling argument to the court, fighting to protect their relationship with the children. Many people in Colorado who find themselves embroiled in a complex custody battle have found that they are better prepared for the procedures and trial when they have an experienced family law attorney on their side.
Source: mlive.com, "ACLU enters Michigan child custody case involving same-sex parents", Barton Deiters, Dec. 7, 2015