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Child custody matter examines definition of parenthood

An unusual case is making its way through one state's judicial process, and it could have ramifications for parents in Colorado and elsewhere. The child custody matter centers on how family law courts define what it means to be a "parent," and who should be given equal standing in child custody cases. The parties include a former same-sex couple and the current husband of one of the women.

The two women were in a committed relationship when they sought to conceive a child through artificial insemination. One woman carried the child to term, and the couple raised the little girl together until she was 4 years old. At that point, the two women separated, but the biological mother allowed her former partner to continue spending time with the child. The biological mother married the following year, and her husband sought to adopt the child through a stepparent adoption proceeding.

The former partner then filed a petition seeking joint custody, and asked the court to halt the stepparent adoption. At the trial level, the court determined that the partner had the right to pursue shared custody. The appellate court reversed that decision. However, the state's highest court came down in favor of allowing the woman to proceed in her bid for shared custody. It has paused the stepparent adoption proceeding until the custody matter is settled by the trial court.

Issues of same-sex parenting and the rights of those parties are under debate in many states across the nation. The outcome of cases such as the one mentioned here are often used to guide similar cases in other states. Parents in Colorado and elsewhere will continue to follow this child custody matter to see how the issue is resolved. As the nation continues to come to terms with same-sex marriage, child custody issues similar to this case are expected to continue to impact the way that families are structured.

Source:, "Court allows custody case pitting ex-gay couple to proceed", Bruce Schreiner, Feb. 18, 2016

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