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Child custody case will center on the definition of parenthood

When most Texas parents enter into a child custody dispute, the question is how to divide parenting time and the responsibilities of caring for a shared child. When one of the parents does not have a biological or legal tie to the child in question, the matter becomes more complicated. When neither parent has such ties, the case can become groundbreaking. One state will soon examine the issue in depth as a same-sex couple enters into an unusual child custody battle.

Their case centers on two children. One of those children was conceived using an egg from a donor as well as donated sperm. The second was conceived using an egg from one of the women and sperm from a donor. This leaves one of the women with a biological connection to one of her children, and both women with no such ties to their other child.

Because the couple's state of residence did not permit same-sex marriage at the time the children were born, there is no marital link between the two women. The partner who did not carry the children or donate the genetic material was granted a limited form of guardianship some years back. The opening volley in the current child custody case was a request to terminate that guardianship, which was answered with a petition for custody and visitation, as well as child support.

The court will now have to determine how the issue of parental rights should be determined when there are no biological or legal ties to one child, and only partial biological ties to another. The matter is of great concern to same-sex couples in Texas and across the nation. In addition, the child custody issue can have an impact on many types of families who use in vitro fertilization to expand their families.  

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

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