Appeals court decides on custody case for same-sex couples

In Illinois and throughout the nation, courts are facing family law issues related to same-sex couples. These can be especially complex cases, with the changing landscape of how these relationships are viewed. This makes it important to watch legal decisions. It is of notable importance when same-sex partners share a child, with one being the biological parent, and the couple decides to end their relationship. The allocation of parental responsibilities can be one of the most difficult family law issues.

Recently, an Illinois appeals court decided that a woman whose ex-wife had a child using artificial insemination will be granted parental rights despite them not being biologically linked. This case will not only be applicable to same-sex parents, but to opposite sex parents as well. The couple married in Iowa nine years ago. They moved to Illinois. They then decided to have a child via artificial insemination. They stated they were the co-parents when the child was born and this was noted on the birth certificate. They separated when the baby was 7-months-old and eventually got a divorce.

In Illinois, same-sex marriage was not recognized until 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized it the next year. This case centered around whether the non-biological parent had a right to recognition as a parent. The court determined that she does. As the case moved forward, the women were sharing parental responsibilities. It should be remembered that with this decision stating that non-biological parents being granted parental responsibilities, it also carries with it the requirement to pay child support if the situation calls for it.

Same-sex family law cases are still relatively new. Issues such as child support, child custody, spousal maintenance and any other issue that falls under family law can be up for dispute. As this dispute shows, the courts are making determinations based on myriad factors that go beyond biological connection.

Source:, “After lesbian couple splits, court rules nonbiological parent has right to child ex-wife carried,” Robert McCoppin, May 1, 2018

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