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U.S. Supreme Court Asked To Decide Lesbian Child Custody Case

For same-sex couples, our legal system has had relatively very little time to develop the full range of solutions that opposite-sex married couples can rely on. This can mean that same-sex couples who are seeing a divorce have a higher likelihood of that they may be presenting a situation that the courts have not ruled on before and do not know how to resolve.

There is almost no limit to the range of family law situations that can arise. For opposite-sex married couples, the courts have had hundreds of years of experience hearing cases and creating case law that can act as a solid foundation on which to build effective solutions to the new and challenging issues that can arise. Same-sex couples do not have that benefit of a long history of legal consideration of their issues on which to rely. 

This past November, a lesbian couple from Alabama asked the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve their child custody dispute. While, this couple had never married because of the state of same-sex marriage laws, they had a very long relationship. One of the partners gave birth to three children through artificial insemination. The other woman adopted the children during a brief period where they resided in Georgia. 

Upon separating, the non-biological parent sought child custody and visitation rights. She won at the trial and appellate level and lost before the Alabama Supreme Court. The case is now before the U.S Supreme Court.

This case is illustrative of the clear need same-sex couples have for further development of case law that can guide courts. It is very easy for the complicated nature of family relationships to create situations that legislature's may not have been able to foresee. Only the passage of time and the accumulation of case law will help build the more stable and predictable legal landscape that same-sex couples deserve.

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