Advocates for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents are hailing a recent decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals that overturned a 2008 ruling that limited the rights of ‘de facto’ parents. A ‘de facto’ parent is a non-traditional parent, such as a same-sex partner of a woman giving birth through artificial insemination, the gay partner of a parent adopting a child from a country that does not allow same-sex adoptions, or a heterosexual person that helps raise a child in a relationship, but has not formally adopted the child.
In 2008, a Maryland judge ruled against a woman who sought custody and visitation rights to a child adopted by her ex-partner. The court ruled that “third party,” or in this case, same-sex parents would need to prove that the legal or biological parent was unfit in some way, or that there were extraordinary circumstances that would warrant their request for child custody or visitation rights. The recent verdict by the Maryland Court of Appeals claims that denying ‘de facto’ parental rights to custody and visitation is unconstitutional.
The most recent case was brought to the Court of Appeals after a lower court had ruled against a transgender man who sought parental rights to a child his wife had conceived through artificial insemination. At the time of the conception, the man had not yet completed his gender transition and was therefore considered a same-sex marital partner. After the couple had separated and ultimately divorced, the man’s ex-spouse refused to let him share custody or even visit the child. She claimed that without formally adopting the child or having his name on the child’s birth certificate, the man was not entitled to parental rights.
How This Ruling Will Affect Traditional Divorce in Maryland
Though the Court of Appeals decision in this case is being called a “win” for the LGBT community, opponents claim that the decision leaves the legal interpretation of a parent in question for traditional families. Some lawmakers argue that non-traditional parents may now have more power in decisions regarding the rights of step-parents and those who separate or divorce before an artificially inseminated woman gives birth.
Maryland now joins the growing number of states in the U.S. recognizing ‘de facto’ parenting rights. Almost half of all states fully recognize the rights of LGBT parents or use ‘de facto’ rights when deciding child custody and visitation rights. Currently, seven states, including New York, Vermont, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, and Utah do not recognize ‘de facto’ parents. Decisions are currently pending on this issue in Vermont and New York.
Pikesville Child Custody Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Represent Clients in all Areas of LGBT Family Law
Pikesville child custody lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC strongly advocate for the rights of the LGBT community. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable LGBT family lawyers is dedicated to ensuring our clients’ parental and anti-discrimination rights are protected under the law.
Call us at 443-589-0150, or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are located in Pikesville, Hunt Valley, and Towson, allowing us to serve clients throughout Maryland including Harford County, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Carroll County as well as the cities of Towson, Essex, Columbia, and Bel Air.