When parents are able to agree to a co-parenting plan that works in the child’s best interests, a judge often approves it. However, sometimes custody battles involve legal issues that have nothing to do with the emotional, physical or psychological needs of the child or the parents. In a case in Kent County, Michigan, involving same-sex parents, questions over parental rights are even more complicated.
A non-biological father has no parental rights when he is not married to the mother. However, the two parents in this case – both women – were not legally able to marry in Michigan, and they never traveled to another state to marry, although they did wear rings. The biological mother’s attorney claims that because there was no legal union, the former partner has no parental rights under this law. Therefore, the partner’s attempts to involve the court over the custody of the children in the case are not justified.
The non-biological mother’s attorney alleges that the law cannot be applied to same-sex couples because of the marriage ban that was in effect throughout the course of their relationship. Holding couples accountable for the lack of a formal ceremony after the law was changed is unjust, according to a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has joined the case. It was not stated whether the two women ever had plans to create a legal union during their relationship.
Custody litigation is often complex, even when the parents are the biological mother and father of a child. Issues for same-sex parents have the potential to include many problems that have not yet been addressed in court. A Michigan family law attorney may be able to provide legal assistance in these types of custody disputes.
Source: MLive News, “ACLU enters Michigan child custody case involving same-sex parents,” Barton Deiters, Dec. 7, 2015