Court rejects lesbian’s attempt to establish parental rights

Posted on 14 Dec 2006 at 7:23pm
By Associated Press

Justices say woman hadn’t met state’s requirement for legal parental rights or proven emotional bond was strong enough for visitation

BOSTON The state’s highest court has rejected a lesbian’s attempt to establish parental rights with her former partner’s biological child, noting the woman failed to adopt the child during the 18 months she and her partner were together after the child’s birth.

The woman from Middlesex County argued that she deserved to be a legal parent because she and her former partner effectively formed an agreement to raise the child together, The Boston Globe reported.

She also argued she should at least be considered a de facto parent with visitation rights because any time missed with child while working, she made up for with the parentlike giving of money as the couple’s primary breadwinner.

The couple broke up in the early 2000s, before gay marriages began in Massachusetts in 2004. The full names of the child and the parties were withheld by the court.

In a unanimous opinion written by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, the court said the woman hadn’t met the state’s requirement for legal parental rights or proved the emotional bond was so strong she deserved court-ordered visitation. The court also said the woman never adopted the child, which would have given her the same rights as the biological mother, and didn’t spend enough time with the child to establish parental rights.

Marshall wrote that though the plaintiff may love the child and the child may benefit from time with her, “these facts are insufficient, in themselves, to accord the plaintiff parental rights.”

A lawyer for the biological mother, John Foskett, said the court’s opinion shows that courts apply child-protection measures equally, regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation.

Attorney Elizabeth Zeldin, who represented the plaintiff, said her client is deeply upset by the ruling, especially because the biological mother has said she planned to end temporary court-mandated visitation if she prevailed.

“It’s very sad for this child,” Zeldin said.

Another attorney for the biological mother, Regina Hurley, disputed that the biological mother intends to end all contact between the child and the plaintiff.

Hurley said the biological mother, like all parents, “will determine what’s in the best interests of her child.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 15, 2006

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