Back in January I wrote about the impending court date for a California child custody dispute involving a lesbian couple who had twins via artificial insemination, but split up shortly after the boys’ birth. The case was complicated by the fact that the birth mother soon became romantically involved with the sperm donor – the children’s biological father.
According to a recent report in the Santa Cruz Sentinel a California custody agreement has been reached in the case under which both women will maintain joint custody of the twins. The newspaper reported that “it is not clear” whether the biological father “was granted any paternity rights in the settlement.”
This case was particularly complex for several reasons. The lesbian couple had been through a commitment ceremony and were both listed as parents on the birth certificate (the boys carry both women’s surnames). While they never registered with the state as domestic partners they were listed as such on insurance documents, and the birth mother’s delivery was paid for by her partner’s health insurance. The couple also failed to create any legal document specifying either their own California parental rights or the California father’s rights, if any, of the sperm donor prior to the babies’ birth.
According to the Sentinel, the former couple reached a settlement recently mainly because the birth mother felt further publicity would harm the boys and wished to avoid mounting legal fees. Her California family law attorney emphasized in an interview with the paper that the birth mother “definitely hasn’t changed her opinion” on whether her former partner actually deserves any paternity rights. The newspaper reports that lawyers for both sides refused to discuss most details of the settlement, citing a confidentiality agreement.
This emotionally wrenching case highlights the importance of experienced and compassionate legal representation in Southern California child custody cases. An Orange County custody lawyer with extensive experience in the evolving areas of California family law can be an essential ally if you are facing a Los Angeles, San Bernardino or Orange county child custody dispute that does not fit the traditional California family law mold.
Santa Cruz Sentinel: Former lesbian partners settle paternity suit