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MS woman seeks ruling that she is parent of child born to ex-wife

As same-sex marriages become more common, so do same-sex divorces. The familiar rules that govern marriages and divorces are being twisted and pulled as gay couples attempt to resolve complex issues of custody and parentage. After being divorced from her wife, a Mississippi woman is facing such an issue in her appeal of a trial court ruling that she is not the legal parent of a child born to her wife during their marriage.

The two women were legally married when they decided to conceive a child using sperm from an anonymous donor. After consulting physicians, they decided which of them would be artificially inseminated and would bear the child. When they decided to obtain a divorce, the chancery judge awarded custody to the woman who gave birth to the child. While the two women share custody and cooperate in raising the boy, the non-custodial ex-spouse wants to be recognized as a legal parent of the child. Unfortunately, when the chancery judge ruled on custody, he stated that both women could not be parents of the child because the biological father, even though his identity is unknown, is the father of the child.

The woman who was denied both custody and recognition of her familial relation to the child is now appealing this decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court. The woman's attorney observed that two members of the state Supreme Court have previously expressed the opinion that the United States Supreme Court overreached when it ruled that same sex marriages are valid. But the woman is undeterred. She said the appeal is "not going to be just for me. It's for anybody who's in my shoes."

Same-sex couples face the same issues in their relationships as heterosexual couples. Anyone in a same- sex marriage that may be coming apart may wish to consult and experienced family law attorney for advice on issues such as alimony and child support and custody if the marriage produced a child.

Source: Jackson Clarion Ledger, "Lesbian challenges Mississippi court ruling that she's not legal parent," Emily Wagster Pettus, June 2, 2017

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