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Genetic mother versus birthing mother: Who gets parental rights?

A complicated situation has arisen for a same-sex couple fighting over a child that they spent two years with as a couple. That child was born in 2004 and the same-sex custody matter has been ongoing since 2008, when the child was about 4 years old. This situation is complex, just like similar matters that may occur in Ohio.

The couple had been together for nine years before their child was born. During that process, one of the women in this relationship gave her egg to be impregnated with semen from a third party. That fertilized egg was then implanted into the other woman who gave birth soon after. Two years later, they broke up and two years after that, a court case was filed.

The genetic mother-the one who donated the egg-was seeking parental rights but was denied such rights a year after the case was filed. Custody was given to the birthing mother-the other woman in the relationship. The judge made this decision based on a law that says donors give up their parental rights.

An appeal was filed and a later decision from the appellate court found that both women should receive parental rights because the genetic mother was not legally considered a donor, meaning she would not be legally required to relinquish her parental rights.

Now, this case is in front of the Florida Supreme Court. According to reports, the justices may choose to return the case to trial court due to a potential factual dispute. Sending the case back to trial court would allow this situation involving a consent form to be resolved. That consent form was only signed by the genetic mother of the child and the resolution of this factor could sway the whole case.

The case is extremely sensitive. According to reports, both women are only referred to by their initials in court documents.

Source: Florida Today, "Lesbians' child custody battle goes before Fla. Supreme Court," Oct. 2, 2012

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