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Child custody case challenges definition of parenthood

The changing landscape of American society has led to a shift in the way that the courts in Florida and elsewhere view matters such as marriage and parenthood. This has led to several unusual cases in which courts are asked to clarify the definition of who is and who is not a parent. One current child custody case focuses on a family in which two same-sex partners used in vitro fertilization to have a child.

The child was conceived using donor sperm and a donor egg. One of the women carried the child to term, but the couple's daughter is not biologically related to either of them. Because they used in vitro fertilization using donated genetic material, there was no need to adopt their child. This leaves both women in a tenuous legal position now that they have decided to end their romantic relationship.

One of the women was granted limited guardianship of the child while the couple was still together. When they split, the other woman filed a motion to terminate that guardianship, which began the child custody case. Now, the court will be tasked with determining how to divide parenting rights between the women, neither of whom has a biological link to the child in question.  

This case is of interest to many non-traditional families in Florida and across the nation. While it is not unusual to see a child custody case in which one same-sex partner is not biologically linked to his or her child, it is uncommon to see a case in which neither parent has such a link. The outcome of this matter will be part of a larger effort to clarify what makes someone a parent, and how parental rights are awarded in non-traditional families.

Source: detroitnews.com, "Same-sex guardianship at issue in Monroe case", Oralandar Brand-Williams, March 20, 2016

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