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One state clarifies child custody for same-sex parents

Most Colorado residents are aware of the landmark United States Supreme Court decision to legitimize same-sex marriage. Since that time, many same-sex couples have struggled in the area of child custody rights. Courts across the nation continue to hear cases in which same-sex parents argue over matters of child custody. One state's Supreme Court recently ruled on the matter, clarifying the application of the Supreme Court ruling to cases before state courts.

The case involved two women who were legally married and who made the decision to add to their family. One woman served as the biological parent of their child, although both were instrumental in parenting. When the relationship came to an end, the biological mother sought full child custody rights. She made the legal argument that her spouse enjoyed no biological or legal link to their child.

In court, a great deal of focus was placed on language in existing state law that made use of terms such as "father," and "paternity." The court was asked to consider whether a female is capable of embodying the role of "father." When the case reached the level of the state Supreme Court, it was determined that a woman is in fact incapable of paternity.

However, the court went on to state that the U.S. Supreme Court decision was used to extend equal access to marriage to same-sex couples, and that the same reasoning should be applied to matters of child custody. The decision is heralded as a victory in the continuing struggles facing same-sex couples. For those in Colorado who are concerned about their own rights, it may be helpful to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney.

Source:, "Arizona court: Same-sex spouse has parental rights over ex-wife's biological child", Howard Fischer, Sept. 19, 2017

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