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Maryland courts recognize “De Facto Parentage” in divorce proceedings

The highest court in Maryland has made a landmark ruling relating to divorcing same-sex couples and the rights of a partner to seek parental rights over a non-biological child. The Court ruled recently that “de facto parentage” now has legal standing in the State of Maryland.

Maryland joins the majority of states in the union in recognizing de facto parents as real and vital figures in their respective children’s lives. With the decision, the Court adopted Wisconsin’s established parameters for defining valid de facto parentage, expressing that de facto parents are more than “pure third parties” to the children they love.

The Wisconsin test requires a parent seeking de facto privileges to first demonstrate that the biological or adoptive parent “consented to, and fostered, the petitioner’s formation and establishment of a parent-like relationship with the child.” The parent must then prove that he or she lived in the same house with the child or children in question. Beyond cohabitation, the petitioning parent must demonstrate that he or she “assumed obligations of parenthood by taking significant responsibility for the child’s care, education and development, including contributing towards the child’s support, without expectation of financial compensation,” and that he or she was in a parental role with the child or children for a length of time sufficient to establish a parental-type relationship.

Divorce involving children can be divisive and messy, but it doesn’t have to be. An experienced, caring attorney will understand that, no matter what the nature of your relationship to your former spouse or the children involved, your rights deserve to be protected like any other parent’s.

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