December 4, 2017
On Sept. 19, 2017, the Arizona Supreme Court determined that a lesbian woman should receive equal parental rights after divorcing her partner. However, Arizona law does not recognize these specific rights. The court ruled that the ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court set precedent in the case, giving the same rights to same-sex couples that straight couples have. Furthermore, many Arizona laws might need to be rewritten in order to avoid further litigation.
This specific case involved artificial insemination. Arizona law assumes paternity from man in a marriage within 10 months. However, no rights are indicated for non-biological parents. Instead of overturning the outdated law, the Arizona Supreme Court expanded the definition of the law to include women. The chief justice stated that the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized gay marriage also afforded same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
Arizona is not the only state that has struggled with changes in the law as nearly every other state has had related cases work their way through the courts since the legalization of gay marriage. However, artificial insemination cases seem especially difficult.
While they were together, the couple had shared parenting. Once the couple split up, the child’s biological mother fought that arrangement. Her lawyer cited stated law, which doesn’t address rights for non-biological parents of the same sex. However, the court sided with her ex-partner.
The ex-partner expressed her relief at the ruling, stating that she just wanted to be present for her son as any mother would. The lawyer for the biological mother expressed disappointment with the verdict.
A dissenting justice believes that the ruling was beyond the scope of the court. The majority opinion sent a message to the legislature that updated laws could prevent needless litigation.
Since the legalization of gay marriage, numerous laws have been challenged as the states work through the logistics and related complications. If you have questions about parental rights or other rights involving gay marriage or family law, contact our seasoned legal team for help with your case.