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Court affirms custody rights for surrogate mother

Over the last several generations, the composition of the "average" American family has changed considerably. With advancements in reproductive medicine, couples who once thought they couldn't have children are welcoming new family members. However, the issue of same-sex unions has added another dimension of complexity to parental rights issues in cases of surrogacy and in-vitro fertilization.

One state's supreme court recently handled a child custody case involving a same-sex couple. In this case, one of the women carried her partner's fertilized egg and gave birth to the couple's child, but is not a biological parent. The two women raised their child together, but eventually broke up and couldn't work out their child custody and support arrangements.

Initially, a court ruled that the surrogate mother had no parental rights, largely because she was not biologically related to the child. This ruling was made despite the fact that the two women signed a parenting agreement before their kid was born. On appeal, however, the state's top court determined that the woman was more than just a surrogate to the child and is able to pursue custodial rights.

Like Alaska, this couple’s home state doesn't legally recognize same-sex marriages. This likely complicated the proceedings and contributed to the woman's struggle to obtain custody and visitation of the child she considers to be hers just as much as her ex-partner does.

Family law cases are often complex in nature. Two parents may have the mutual goal of raising happy, healthy children, but they have serious disagreements about how to do that. An experienced attorney can help sort through these complex issues and help find a resolution.

Source: The Associated Press, "Surrogate mom can seek child custody," Oct. 3, 2013

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