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Absent adoption or marriage, nonbiological parents have few rights

A state Court of Appeals recently ruled that a woman does not have to pay child support to her former partner. The two decided to have a child together and raised a daughter for eight years before they ended their relationship. At that time they made a child support, custody, and visitation agreement in which the child’s biological mother would be her primary caretaker and the other woman who had raised her would pay child support and have visitation.

However, the two argued about this agreement in the years after it was made and the child’s biological mother tried to restrict the other woman’s visitation privileges.

Once in court, a judge made a new ruling on visitation and child support, but upheld both.

The important thing to remember about this story is that the woman who was not the child’s biological mother had no legal relationship to the child since she did not adopt the child and was not married to the child’s partner. This means that for purposes of support and visitation considerations, she is a “non-parent” under the law and therefore is not really entitled to any rights nor does she have any absolute obligations under family law.

In this case the Court of Appeals found no basis for child support payments and ordered the return of payments that she had previously made to the child’s biological mother. However, the judges looked at the best interest of the child and determined that the non-parent should have visitation rights.

Source: Journal Sentinel, “Court says no child support due in split of same-sex couple,” Bruce Vielmetti, Sept. 6, 2013.

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