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One state rules on same-sex child custody rights

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court created a path for same-sex couples to legally marry, cases have come before courts in Florida and across the nation to clarify how other laws should be applied to those couples. An example lies in a multitude of child custody cases in which one partner claims that the lack of a biological connection precludes the other partner from having child custody rights. Recently, one state ruled on the matter, finding that same-sex parents should have the same rights as heterosexual parents.

The case centered on a legally married lesbian couple who wanted to expand their family. One woman gave birth to a child, whom the couple raised together for a period of time before separating. At that point, the biological mother claimed that her former partner had no legal right to their child due to the fact that there was no biological relation.

A large portion of the case rested on the argument that state law made use of terms such as "father," "man" and "he." All of those terms suggest paternity, a status that a woman is not able to embody. When the matter went before the state's Supreme Court, the justices determined that the language was irrelevant. Because the U.S. Supreme Court had previously ruled to legitimize same-sex marriage, the state court found that the same child custody rights should be granted to all parents, regardless of sexual orientation.

This ruling has been heralded as a victory for same-sex parents. The case is one of many currently before courts in various states in an effort to clarify the rights of same-sex parents. For those in Florida who have a nontraditional family structure, the outcome of this unusual child custody case may be of interest.

Source: tucson.com, "Arizona court: Same-sex spouse has parental rights over ex-wife's biological child", Howard Fischer, Sept. 19, 2017

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