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Custody battle involving same-sex couple decided

Maryland residents interested in rights for same-sex couples and unmarried parents may be interested in the outcome of a case involving two women and their child who was born after one woman donated an egg to the other who carried it to term. Two years after the child was born, the couple broke up, and the woman who gave birth left the country and took the child with her. When the biological mother was able to locate the birth mother and child, she took the woman to court for custody.

A lower court initially sided with the birth mother and declared that under state law, the biological mother had no parental rights regarding the child. However, the Florida Supreme Court recently overturned the ruling and ordered the lower court to arrange for visitation, child support and custody.

The birth mother argued that sperm and egg donors in the state do not have parental rights and pointed out that donors in the state are required to sign a contract that relinquishes parental rights. However, as evidence showed, the couple clearly intended to raise the child together. Joint funds were spent on the medical procedure the birth mother underwent, and the couple also attending counseling to prepare for their role as parents. The biological mother will be reunited with her child, who will be 10 years old in January, after having been apart for six years.

Whether someone has ever been married to their partner or not, they may have legal rights that allow them visitation or even joint custody of their child. By exercising their rights and pursuing legal action, individuals may be able to be given the right by a court to see their child and be involved with their life.

Source: ABC News, "Fla. Supreme Court Settles Lesbian Custody Battle", Brendan Farrington, November 07, 2013

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