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Arizona Court of Appeals denies paternity in LGBTQ case

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2017 | Child Custody

Having a child is a very rewarding experience. A parent, biological or not, is able to raise the child and instill his or her values while guiding the child through life. Despite it being a positive experience, there are some pitfalls that could befall on some parents in Arizona and elsewhere. Paternity issues could arise by either a mother claiming a man is a father or a man claiming he is or is not the father of a child. Paternity issues also present themselves when a father wants certain rights afforded to them. While these issues are understandable in an opposite-sex marriage, what happens when a same-sex couple parents a child and one spouse wants to assert paternity rights during divorce?

Based on a ruling by the state Court of Appeals, the same-sex spouse of a woman that gave birth to a child is not entitled to parental rights. This ruling is considered to be a setback from the historic Supreme Court ruling that legally entitles same-sex couples to marry. Additionally, this ruling comes only six months following a different division of the Court of Appeals who reached the exact opposite ruling.

In that case, after an Arizona court found that when the biological mother is determined, the only presumed other parent of the child is male. Following that ruling, an Appellate judge found that this does not align with the 2015 Supreme Court Ruling; thus, allowing the same-sex marriage legal protections to override that ruling.

Now, the Arizona Supreme Court will decide whether the recent ruling will be upheld of not. If it is upheld, this ruling has the ability to impact more than just child custody cases in a same-sex marriage or divorce. It could set precedence in the state on how these legal disputes will be handled.

Whether you are in an opposite-sex marriage or a same-sex marriage, parental rights issues could present themselves during a divorce. Because of that, it is important to understand the wide scope of paternity rights and how these issues could be resolved.

Source:, “Paternity not equal in same sex marriage,” Howard Fischer, June 23, 2017