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Mother receives support then tries to deny custody

The complicated environment surrounding same-sex couples is in a state of flux. This is because of the legal changes that are being made. Even though it is still illegal in Ohio, many residents —particularly in Columbus — pay attention to how this legal shift is playing out. For instance, a recent ruling on a same-sex custody matter may have a lasting effect on other judicial decisions in the future.

The matter involved two women and a child. One of the women — the biological mother — retained custody of the child after the couple decided to split. This was after the two of them had registered as domestic partners. During their relationship, the two women discussed adoption but no paperwork was ever filed. Soon after the split, the biological mother sought child support and was awarded it. During the proceedings, she referred to her former partner as a parent of her daughter.

After the support hearing, the nonbiological parent chose to file for custody. But the biological mother did not want this to happen, so she filed for a dismissal on the grounds that the law in her state only referred to parents as individuals that are either related through biology or adoption. This would not include the mother's former partner. But the judge who presided over the support case also was involved in the custody matter. She did not feel the same way as the biological mother.

Instead, she said that the mother had repeatedly referred to her former partner as a parent of the child during the support hearings. The judge made sure to make this clear and said that the biological mother could not receive support and then deny custody in such a way. The mother's former partner was awarded the right to seek custody, despite not being a biological or adoptive parent. An attorney for the woman, who obviously was pertinent in helping her win this case, was happy with the outcome.

Source:  Thomson Reuters, "Same-sex parent who pays support can seek custody: judge" Jessica Dye, Apr. 19, 2013

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