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Steven J. Gaba
Phone: 301-738-7770

Maryland man appeals ruling that he has no legal rights to child

We've talked here before about the challenges that gay couples still face in getting custody and visitation rights to their children even though same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the country. One transgender Maryland man is fighting his way through the Maryland judicial system for the right to see the boy he considers his son.

Back in 2009, the man (who was still a woman at that time) was in a relationship with another woman. The couple had the child through artificial insemination, with the other partner giving birth to the boy. Soon after, the couple got married in Washington, D.C. (which legalized same-sex marriage before Maryland did). They parented the child together until they broke up. In the divorce, the woman who had given birth to the child claimed that she was the boy's only parent.

A Maryland trial court agreed with the birth mother, ruling that the other parent had no adoptive or biological relationship to the child. In the eyes of the law, he was essentially considered a stranger. He was denied visitation or custody rights. The Court of Special Appeals upheld that ruling. The man has not seen the child for over two years.

These courts based their rulings on a Maryland law that when a child is adopted by just one member of a same-sex couple, that person is the only legal parent even if his or her partner has been the child's "de facto parent" as well.

However, the man in this case is citing another Maryland law as he asks Maryland's Court of Appeals to review the earlier decisions. Under that law, a person who marries a woman and acknowledges parentage of that woman's child is considered the child's legal parent.

State laws regarding custody of the children of same-sex couples who have broken up are still evolving. Meanwhile, both children and parents have to endure the pain of being kept apart because of their parents' issues. If you are in this situation, a Maryland family law attorney can provide guidance and work to help you fight for the right to see your child.

Source: LGBTQ Nation, "Transgender man fights denial of child visitation rights," Oct. 22, 2015

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