Even though same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the country, issues like divorce as well as child custody and even visitation for gay couples can still be problematic. This is even true here in Maryland, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013.
Last month, the Court of Special Appeals upheld a Washington County Circuit judge’s ruling that a Maryland woman has no parental standing when it comes to the 5-year-old son of her ex-spouse and that she can be denied custody and visitation rights. The boy was born six months before the couple’s marriage, which lasted less than a year.
The woman who filed the suit says that her former spouse refused to let her see the boy beginning in July 2012. She sued for visitation rights the following year under a rather interesting premise — that she met the legal standards for paternity and therefore could be considered the child’s father. The circuit court rejected that argument on the grounds that the child was born before the women wed. It ruled against her.
The appeals court judge who wrote the decision upholding that court’s ruling said that the plaintiff was not one of the boy’s parents, but a “third party.” This means that she would either have to show that his mother is unfit or that there are exceptional circumstances that override her decision not to let her former spouse see the child. He also noted, however, that Maryland legislators need to make the laws regarding same-sex divorces and the issues that go along with them more clear.
When two people raise a child together and then go their separate ways, it can be heartbreaking for someone who saw him/herself as a parent to be forbidden to have any custody rights or even be allowed to see a child because of a former spouse’s animosity. It can be equally heartbreaking for the child in the middle. Although the rights of divorced same-sex couples are still evolving, a Maryland family law attorney may be able to provide guidance and help you assert your rights in court.
Source: Oroville Mercury Register, “Court: No visitation rights for woman after same-sex divorce,” Sep. 02, 2015