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Major same-sex child custody battle moves toward a conclusion

The landscape of the American family has changed significantly over the last few generations. Only a few decades ago, it wasn't ordinary for mothers to work outside the home; now, two-income households are entirely common. Additionally, several states have approved same-sex marriage and other states are moving in that direction. These changes, of course, have had a major impact on family law.

Arizona does not allow same-sex marriages, but there are still many couples who have built a life and family together in the state. Without legal recognition of their relationships, Arizona same-sex couples might run into issues when trying to settle family law issues if they decide to split up.

In Florida, another state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, a former couple has been working through a child custody issue involving egg donation laws. According to reports, the couple decided to have a child together through surrogacy. One woman provided her egg and her partner carried the child to term. In 2006, however, the couple split up and the birth mother left the country with the child. After tracking the birth mother down, her ex-partner filed a child custody claim.

Eventually the case escalated to the Florida Supreme Court. The birth mother's attempt to deny custody was based on a 1993 law that limited the ability of sperm and egg donors to claim custody. In the end, the court ruled that this law doesn’t apply because the two women planned to have a child and contributed to parenting. As such, both parents are entitled to custody rights.

Although the Florida ruling doesn't apply to Arizona family law, couples in our state could run into similar issues. As couples become parents through a variety of means, it may be important to ensure that the rights of parents and needs of children are protected.

Source: The Associated Press, "Florida Supreme Court rules lesbian egg donor has parental rights to child her partner birthed," Nov. 7, 2013

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