California Child Custody Case Reaches U.S. Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a California child custody case dealing with the parenting rights of a lesbian couple who separated shortly after the birth of their daughter. The Supreme Court’s decision not to rule on the California child custody and parental rights dispute leaves intact a state court ruling which held that the biological mother’s former partner “had been fully involved in conceiving and taking care of the child and was legally her co-parent,” according to a recent report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

California parental disputes involving same sex couples are an area of the law that is still developing. In this case, according to the Chronicle, the parents of the now six-year-old girl split up only three months after her birth. The birth mother, who has since moved to Texas, argued as part of the California child custody dispute that her former partner had only been involved with the child for a few months and that acknowledging parental status would infringe on her rights as a mother.

The state court ruling, which stands because of the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case, held that the ex-partner had gained California parental status through her involvement in planning the child’s conception and delivery and in acting as the child’s parent before breaking up with the biological mother. It noted that a man in a heterosexual relationship in which the circumstances were otherwise similar would be considered the father under California family law.

The Chronicle quotes the partner’s attorney praising the court’s decision, saying it “shows that California courts will protect both members of a same-sex couple who decide to have a child together.” The paper said that attorneys for the birth mother were unavailable for comment.

The circumstances of every Southern California family law and child custody dispute are unique. When a relationship – especially one involving children – goes sour it is important to consult a Los Angeles, Orange County or San Bernardino County child custody lawyer as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not the partners have ever been legally married. An experienced Costa Mesa or Anaheim family law attorney will be abreast of both California family and child custody law and of any nuances that apply to your particular case.

San Francisco Chronicle: Lesbian mom must share parental status with ex