This is the time of the modern family. It’s not just a hit TV series. Families in New Jersey and throughout the country are made up of diverse realities. An aspect of the modern family that states’ and the overall country’s family laws have been focused on is the same-sex partnership.
Same-sex civil unions and marriages inspire debate. But debate or not, laws need to exist that protect the best interests of the children involved in a family law situation involving two parents of the same sex. A recent Florida child custody ruling has some believing that more and more, courts are recognizing the importance of same-sex parental rights.
Sources report that the parents involved in this child custody dispute are two women who had been in a long, committed relationship with each other. Years into their relationship, the women decided that they wanted to have a child together. The couple used one of the women’s eggs, while the other woman carried the egg and ultimately delivered a daughter.
Family law and the miracles of science have intertwined to create some gray areas for the courts to consider. In Florida, for example, the basic law was that the biological mother of a child was the mother who gave birth to the baby. When this same-sex couple broke up, therefore, the court ruled in favor of granting parental rights to the woman who carried the child.
But what about the woman whose egg created the child? The appeals court ruled that the trial court needs to reevaluate that point and create a child custody plan that would provide both parents rights to the child that they created together.
As with any family law decision involving children, the central focus should always be what’s in the best interest of the child. That standard shouldn’t change whether a child has a mom and a dad, two moms or two dads.
Los Angeles Times: “Both lesbian moms have parental rights, Florida court rules,” Rene Stutzman, Jan. 3, 2011