Judge: Non-bio mom in lesbian divorce is child’s legal parent

Lauren Poole

Lauren Poole

Virginia Beach, Va. Circuit Judge Steven Frucci has ruled in a lesbian divorce case there involving custody of a child that even though she contributed no DNA, the non-biological mom is a legal parent of the child to whom her now-former wife gave birth.

To rule otherwise, Frucci said, would make “every child born in a same-sex marriage a bastard, and I’m not about to do that,” according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Lauren Poole, 29, and Karen Poole, 31, both of Virginia Beach, were married in Maryland in August 2013, before same-sex marriage was legally recognized in Virginia. They used sperm donated by a male friend to impregnate Karen, using the at-home “turkey baster” method. Lauren, Karen and the sperm donor signed an agreement before the baby — a boy — was born that released the sperm donor from any responsibility and named Lauren as the child’s second parent.

The baby was born in July 2014, but six months later — as their relationship began to fail — Laurent moved out of the family’s home. She visited the baby several times a week until she and Karen got into an altercation, after which Karen took out a protective order against Lauren that prevented her from seeing the baby.

Lauren Poole then filed for divorce, leading to the just-settled battle in Frucci’s court.

Wanting children, they enlisted a male friend to act as a sperm donor, impregnating Karen Poole with an at-home artificial insemination technique commonly known as the “turkey baster” method, according to written arguments filed by both sides.

After the pregnancy was confirmed, the three signed an agreement to release the donor from parental responsibility and name Lauren Poole as the child’s second parent.

The baby – a boy – was born in July 2014 at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital.

Six months later, the couple’s marriage was unraveling and Lauren Poole moved out of the family’s home. For the next few months, she visited the baby several times a week until an altercation led Karen Poole to take out a protective order that stopped all contact.

Lauren Poole filed for divorce and a fight for custody began. As the battle over custody continues, Frucci says one question is definitely settled: From here on out, Lauren Pool will be treated as the legal parent of a legitimate child.

—  Tammye Nash

Texas Supreme Court rules against state in same sex divorce case; Abbott “disappointed”

Angelique Naylor

Angelique Naylor

In a 5-3 decision released this morning (Friday, June 19) the Texas Supreme Court agreed with an appeals court the state had no vested interest in a case affecting an Austin lesbian couple seeking divorce.

Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly wed in 2004. Naylor, who had a child and ran a business with Daly, filed for divorce in Travis County in 2010. The couple had already settled many issues out of court. But to address remaining legal issues, they sought an appeals court judgment addressing various under their divorce.

However Gov. Greg Abbott, then state attorney general, argued because Texas not acknowledge same-sex marriages, the divorce was therefore nullified. Despite the last ditch efforts, the court declined to acknowledge the state’s appeal.

Abbott, in a statement called the ruling disappointing and even a mistake.

“The Court mistakenly relied on a technicality to allow this divorce to proceed. Importantly, the Court did not address the Texas Constitution’s definition of marriage,” he said. “The Texas Constitution continues to stand as the governing law for marriage in the State of Texas. The State and all political subdivisions in Texas remain prohibited by the Texas Constitution from giving effect to a same-sex marriage or any document recognizing one—including the divorce decree in this case.”

The ruling has no impact on the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. That decision was stayed and that case is awaiting an opinion before the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

—  James Russell

Same-sex couples half as likely to divorce as straights

Williams-Institute-Logo copyA new study by the Williams Institute found that gay and lesbian couples who marry are half as likely to divorce as straight couples.

The study found that 1.1 percent of same-sex couples dissolve their relationships each year while 2 percent of opposite-sex couples divorce.

While same-sex marriage is new in most states, the statistics include 13 years of data from domestic partnerships in California and almost 10 years of data from civil unions in New Jersey.

The study also found female couples are more likely than male couples to formalize their relationships. Also, even in states that already had marriage equality, same-sex couples were more likely to marry after the Windsor decision that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma grants first same-sex divorce

oklahoma-marriageAs marriage equality spreads across the country, there’s a major lesson the gay and lesbian community needs to learn: Just because you CAN get married, doesn’t mean you SHOULD get married.

Although Oklahoma has had marriage equality for almost two months, it’s already had its first same-sex divorce. It’s not as bad as it sound, however.

Deanne and Julie Baker of Oklahoma City married in Iowa in 2012. They tried to divorce over the summer, but the Oklahoma court rejected their petition, because it didn’t recognize the marriage. Once marriage equality hit the state, the petition was accepted on Oct. 15 and the couple is divorced.

So remember, if you visit a marriage equality state to marry and you then consider divorce, Texas is neither a marriage equality state nor a divorce equality state. And a couple can only divorce in their home state, unless at least one of them establishes residency elsewhere.

—  David Taffet

Lesbian couple files for divorce in Bexar County


A San Antonio couple has filed to dissolve their 2010 D.C. marriage.

The couple, Allison Leona Flood Lesh and Kristi Lyn Lesh, filed for divorce on Feb. 18 after separating in July. Their case is the first divorce sought by a same-sex couple in Bexar County, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Eight days after they filed, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and its refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages is unconstitutional. But Garcia stayed his ruling pending appeal. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott later appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case may be put on hold until the Texas Supreme Court decides whether to allow same-sex couples to divorce in Texas. The court heard arguments for same-sex divorce in the state back in November, when lawyers for an Austin couple, who were granted a divorce, and a Dallas couple, who were still trying to obtain one, argued that the state didn’t need to recognize the marriages to dissolve the unions since the state where they were married already recognized their unions as legal.

The court has yet to rule in the cases, but a decision is expected by summer before the court’s recess.

But the San Antonio couple wants the case to move forward because they are also battling for custody of their 13-month-old daughter. Flood, who hasn’t seen the child in six months,  wants to share custody, while Lesh doesn’t because her wife isn’t the girl’s biological or adoptive parent. The Austin couple also has a child, but the case didn’t deal with custody.

“This illustrates what Judge Garcia identified as (what) same-sex couples are deprived of,” Neel Lane, one of the San Antonio lawyers for the gay couples who sued the state over the same-sex marriage ban, told the San Antonio Express-News. “First, they are deprived of the benefits of an orderly dissolution of a marriage. Second, their children are denied the benefit of the many laws to protect their interests in the event of a divorce.”

The couple has a hearing on Thursday.

—  Dallasvoice

Sara Gilbert splits from girlfriend

Sara Gilbert, the Emmy-nominated star of Roseanne and The Talk co-host, revealed to People magazine that she and her partner of a decade, Allison Adler, are splitting up. They have been together since 2001 and have two children together. It has been a bad week romance-wise for the the Gilbert family. Sara’s sister, Little House on the Prairie‘s Melissa Gilbert, filed for divorce from her husband, Bruce Boxleitner, on Thursday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

FAMILY LIFE: Together. Apart.

ZAYN HAS TWO MOMMIES | Despite their divorce, Denise, left, Hope and Zayn remain a family. (Arnold Wayne Jones/ Dallas Voice)

How one couple turned the drama of divorce into a nurturing environment for their son

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer

After nine years together, Hope Rivera and Denise Jayroe came to a tough decision — a decision couples never want to be faced with. The two agreed not to be together anymore.

But this wasn’t just a separation. After getting officially married in Victoria, Canada six years into their relationship, this was a divorce. But they would say that this was not about them at all.

“There’s always drama and it wasn’t easy,” Jayroe said. “We could have stayed together and been unhappy or be split and be happy.”

“Once you get past the relationship ending, there’s a child there. That didn’t change when we separated,” Rivera added.

After Jayroe gave birth to Zayn almost five years ago, the couple planned for a second-parent adoption so Rivera could have legal parental responsibility. It may have bonded the relationship between the two women more solidly, but more importantly, it benefited their son.

The two strongly suggest this plan of action for same-sex couples having a child.

“That was the No. 1 thing I knew we needed to do and Hope wanted it, too,” Jayroe said. “It’s one of first things a gay couple should do. It helps protect relationships, but really, it protects Zayn. That adoption solidifies the responsibility, and so Hope is now also legally and financially responsible for him.”

Although things didn’t work out for the couple, they both are proud about how much they agree on almost everything — especially when it comes to Zayn. There are no snippy tales of what one does with him that annoys the other. In fact, the family is quite happy — just in a different fashion.

“We’ve split everything 50/50, but he knows that we are both his parents and that’s not going to change,” Rivera said. “Denise and I have a good sense of each other.

That made it easy to agree on how we were raising Zayn regarding his education, his sleep time, going to church, all that stuff.

“We may have different styles in parenting, but we’re consistent and he has a foundation to work from.”

They did have some help on the terms of their custody agreement from co-parenting counselor Carrie Beaird, president of Co-Parenting Solutions. Rivera and Jayroe credit her with stabilizing the plan they needed to raise Zayn as divorced parents.

“That helped us come to agreements on some things and it let us get anything and everything out in the open,” Rivera said.

What Rivera and Jayroe have done is changing the definition of family, as gay couples have been doing for a while. Instead of letting divorce rule as a detriment, they’ve created a successful, happy family — just in two different households.

“Being a child of divorce, I’m aware of how it affects a child,” Rivera said. “We didn’t plan to split up, obviously. But we did. It’s not that parents divorce, but how they handle it. He has two families now, and we do as much as we can to convey that sense of security.”

Even when there might be contentious issues between the two adults, they make a distinct effort to step back and refocus on Zayn. They never discuss the other parent in front of him or argue when he’s around. This is their reality.

“Hope is also the mother of my child and I’m careful in the communication I have with her and our relationship now,” Jayroe said. “The way I treat Hope and my life models to him that this is how you are a human being in this world.”

Knowing the situation could be far worse, Rivera and Jayroe have created and maintained a smooth and even happy system. Holidays and birthdays are split and vacations are still taken. They make it a point to live within five miles of each other just to be close, and both make all the functions they can at his Montessori school.

Their lives reflect something more than just making it work. Although redefining family, they both bring up what parenting means for same-sex couples and the rights that do and don’t come with that. Rivera and Jayroe have seemingly taken all the steps as lesbian parents to protect their child. They hope others do the same.

“I sit here and think we want equal rights, but some people don’t want to do this stuff for each other,” Rivera said. “It disturbs me when I hear how biological mothers can be with their children and use them as pawns. And I seem to see that happen more in our community. If we’re going to ask for equal rights, what are people doing to help or hinder that?”

Jayroe added, “Gay and lesbian couples are under a magnifying glass right now with the marriage issue on the forefront. My hope is that couples doing this and having to make this transition will focus on their children and strive to be a model family. Even in different houses.”

—  John Wright

Wyoming’s Gay Divorce War

GAY DIVORCE X390 (THINKSTOCK) | ADVOCATE.COMA same-sex divorce case pending before the Wyoming supreme court has a
group of lawmakers vying to get involved, while two measures
simultaneously seek to prevent recognition of same-sex marriages performed outside the
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

Southern Conservative Christians Divorce More

So, now that we know via this study that conservative Christians in the deep south divorce more, what are we going to do, as a nation, to save the institution of marriage?

Divorce is more common among conservative Christians and young people, according to a recent study.

University of Iowa sociology professor Jennifer Glass presented her study on skyrocketing divorce rates in regions highly populated with conservative Christians to an overflowing crowd in Burdine Hall on Friday.

“Politically and religiously conservative states, especially in the Deep South, exhibit higher divorce rates than politically and religiously liberal states in the Northeast and Midwest,” Glass wrote in her study.

So, while conservative Christians claim their marriages are superior because “God is (supposedly) in the mix,” they are getting divorced at higher rates than their more progressive counterparts. Facts never get in the way of conservatives claiming their behavior is superior and that they are somehow the authority on, well, just about everything. It would be nice if actual informative facts from a study like this would end the debate with conservative Christians about gay marriage, but I’m not going to hold my breath. You see, they have faith their marriages are superior to gay marriages no matter how many times they’ve been divorced, and all logic and facts be damned.


—  admin

Texas Appeals Court Upholds Gay Divorce

TEXAS FLAG X390 (PHOTOS.COM) | ADVOCATE.COMThe appellate court rules that Texas attorney general Greg Abbott cannot block the divorce of two women who married out-of-state. 
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin