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Woman denied paternity rights in same-sex divorce

A Maryland judge has said that current state law leaves him with no choice but to rule against the claim of a woman filing for custody or visitation rights following the end of a same-sex marriage. The woman had filed for paternity rights to the child her partner gave birth to six months before the two married. The decision by the Court of Special Appeals on Sept. 2 upheld a ruling of the Washington County Circuit Court.

The couple divorced less than a year after their marriage, but the woman asserted that under state law, she should be considered to have paternity rights. She is not listed on the child's birth certificate, but the filing said that the biological mother had referred to her on occasion as the child's father.

The judge in the case said that the woman was a third party and not another parent due to the fact that the laws are not clear about the rights of same-sex parents and couples in cases such as these. In his opinion, the judge wrote that there was no question about the woman's desire to have access to the child but that it was an area better suited to the legislature than to the courts.

With same-sex marriage legalized throughout the country, an individual might assume that same-sex couples now have the same rights as opposite-sex couples. However, as this case demonstrates, some laws around child custody and visitation have not yet caught up to the new marriage laws. Same-sex couples who are marrying may want to speak with legal counsel about establishing parental rights for any children they have. An attorney may also be helpful in working out child custody and visitation arrangements in a same-sex separation.

Source: The Daily Caller, "Maryland woman loses custody case in same sex divorce," Kerry Pickett, Sept. 3, 2015

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