Court rules unmarried gay women can seek full parental rights

Posted on October 6, 2016 by Chris Kirker

On October 4, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued a decision saying both members of a couple have equal rights to seek parental custody of their children.  The couple, who are gay women, broke up in 2008 and have children who are now four and eight.

Justice Barbara Lenk ruled Karen Partanen can receive full legal parentage of her children despite not bearing them biologically. Julie Gallagher is the biological mother, but Partanen helped raise the children when the two were still in a relationship.

The SJC overturned a family court ruling. Now, the court is saying a gay individual can be a legal parent of a child under Massachusetts state law. Their ruling holds even if the individual and the child have no biological relationship. Lenk noted, “The plain language of the provisions, then, may be construed to apply to children born to same-sex couples, even though at least one member of the couple may well lack biological ties to the children.”

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