In January of this year, it was reported in this blog that a woman had petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case of paternity rights for a divorced gay couple. The justices recently announced that they were declining to hear this case, though they did not provide any additional comments as to why it was refused. Though New York has laws regarding paternity rights in matters relating to artificial insemination as well as same-sex marriages, the decision may be seen as a victory for gay and state rights.
The case concerns a former couple who wed in 2008 and decided to have a child through artificial insemination in 2010. They filed a joint parenting agreement and also drafted mirror wills that recognized each other as the legal parent of their son. In 2011, the biological mother of the child left the relationship and claimed she was the sole parent of the child.
The non-biological parent filed for paternity rights and joint custody of their son. The case found its way through the Arizona court system until the state supreme court ruled that the woman was entitled to the same rights as a biological father. Though the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to consider this case, that decision could impact three other pending cases.
Gay rights activists see this as a victory, as it will be left for individual states to decide the matter. This particular case is headed back to the lower court in the hopes that it can finally be resolved. The non-biological parent has already been granted visitation rights and is hopeful that a custody agreement can be finalized. New York residents do have laws that can help decide these types of matters involving same-sex couples, and since there is no federal ruling in the near future, the right of states to settle these cases remains intact. Couples who are struggling to resolve issues relating to same-sex divorce or custody may elect to seek the input of an experienced family law attorney who routinely handles these types of cases.
Source: azcapitoltimes.com, “Justices leave same-sex parent ruling in place“, Howard Fischer, Feb. 26, 2018