Since Maryland legalized same-sex marriage recently, many of our readers are likely paying more attention to the types of issues which will inevitably spawn from that decision. After all, marriage – almost half of the time – leads to divorce, and divorce often leads to a child custody dispute.
Maryland courts are almost certainly paying more attention to these issues. Why is that? Well, when a court is reviewing a matter that is novel and an analogous issue has not been presented in the state before, one of the first steps is to review the decisions made in other states with the same or similar laws. In doing so, a judge in Maryland could rely on the reasoning of a judge from another state to come to a decision on a tough issue. In the case of child custody, Maryland courts may soon be reviewing a recent decision by the Kansas Supreme Court.
In the case at issue, two same-sex parents were embroiled in a child custody dispute. The problem was that one of the partners was artificially inseminated and was the biological mother of the child, while the other partner was a parent under a co-parenting plan. After the couple broke up, the non-biological parent was awarded parenting time and visitation rights. The biological parent argued that this violated her constitutional rights.
The court sided with the non-biological parent, ruling that the co-parenting arrangement that they had previously agreed to was indeed valid. However, the court ordered the original court to hear additional evidence on what arrangement would ultimately be in the best interests of the child.
Cases like this will be noted by many in Maryland, especially in light of the recent change in the law. These unique circumstances will begin to pop up eventually, and those who find themselves in a unique situation would be wise to get all of the best information about the legal options.
Source: cjonline.com, “Parental rights upheld for same-sex partner,” Feb. 22, 2013