A recent ruling by an appeals court in Texas is being cited by legal commentators as an important blow for California fathers’ rights. The case involves a child custody battle involving a gay couple. Though the ruling came in Texas, the core issues in the case originate here in California and focus on our state’s child custody laws. Commentators are calling the case especially important for the ways it may reinforce the rights of adoptive fathers in all parts of the country.
According to an analysis at The Huffington Post the basics of the case are these: A gay couple from Texas traveled to Canada to marry in 2003, and later “registered as domestic partners in California.” Because neither gay marriage nor domestic partnerships are recognized in Texas, when they decided to have a child they hired a surrogate in California who was impregnated using sperm from one of the men. “Prior to the child’s birth they obtained a pre-birth declaration of parentage under the Uniform Parentage Act, which is lawful in California.” Declarations of this kind allow same-sex couples to establish legal parentage prior to a child’s birth.
More recently, when the couple broke up, the partner who had provided the sperm attempted to claim sole custody of the child based on his biological link and the fact that Texas does not recognize same-sex unions (and has, in the past, also refused to dissolve same-sex unions contracted in other states). In effect, he claimed that the California declaration of parentage had no validity in Texas and, therefore, he was effectively the sole parent.
Narrowly seen, the Texas court ruling says only that the federal Uniform Parentage Act obliges Texas to recognize the couple’s legal California child custody agreement, regardless of their sexual orientation. This has obvious resonance for same-sex couples, but is also potentially significant for adoptive parents caught in complex interstate child custody battles.
The complexities of California child custody law are legion. When other factors make these difficult issues seem intractable a father’s best solution is to consult with an Orange County child custody and visitation attorney. Adoptions, same-sex unions and legal decrees from other states can all make a difficult situation seem worse. An experienced Southern California family law expert can offer invaluable assistance in your battle to protect your rights as a parent.
Huffington Post: “Non-Bio” Gay Dad Prevails in Texas Parentage Battle