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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Massachusetts Extends Parental Rights to Same-Sex Partners, Even after Relationships End




The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has given a woman permission to seek parental rights to a child conceived and gestated by her former female partner.  The two women had been in a 13-year relationship but had not married. One of them conceived two children through insemination.  When the couple eventually broke up, the gestating mother asserted that she alone was entitled to parental rights.

In making its decision, the Court relied on a state law that gives unmarried biological fathers the right to prove that he is “the presumed parent.” The Court declared that this law must be interpreted in a gender-neutral way and -- in the case of same-sex couples -- without having to demonstrate “biological ties” to the children produced in a relationship.  The Court said: “Nothing in the language of [the state law] expressly limits its applicability to parentage claims based on asserted biological ties.’’

The Court also indicated that its logic would also apply to two men who rely on a surrogate to produce a child father by only one of the men. 

This court decision does not automatically grant parental rights to this particular woman, but it does entitle her  (and others in her situation) to try and convince a court that she  should  be recognized a parent, no matter the lack of a biological -- either genetic or gestational -- relationship to the child.

Source:  John R. Ellement, The state’s highest court just made a major ruling on parental rights, The Boston Globe, Oct. 4, 2016.  At: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/10/04/mass-high-court-grants-parental-rights-mother-former-same-sex-partner/rrSnSEv5KTp9PyzIvUjJVN/story.html

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