A battle for visitation rights is unfolding in Dallas between two women that were formerly partners. The couple was together in a committed relationship for seven years when they decided to raise a child together. One woman carried and birthed the child, but then about a year after the little boy was born, the couple split up.
Both women tell a different story when it comes to the interest of the child. The biological mother says that her partner was reluctant to fully accept responsibility for the child, but the biological mother's former partner says that she always fully intended to raise the child.
The bottom line is that the non-biological mother did not legally establish her intentions before the child was born. For same-sex couples that are looking to have children together, in order to protect the interest of both parents and the child, it is often advised to establish legal documents prior to the conception of the child. When the child is born, a second-parent adoption can protect the interest of the non-biological parent.
Both women were listed on the birth announcement, so even though there were no legal documents protecting the interest of the non-biological mother, she was able to show a family law judge that she had intent to raise and provide for the child. Accordingly, a judge ordered the women to go to counseling to attempt to work out a visitation schedule. The biological mother is planning on appealing that finding.
Although same-sex marriage is not allowed in Texas, there are ways for same-sex couples to raise a family. Like any other family, same-sex parents are susceptible to break up like any other couple, so it is important for the non-biological parent to have some legal standing when children are involved. An experienced family law attorney can assist individuals in this process.
Source: DallasVoice.com, "Unplanned parenthood," David Taffet, Feb. 1, 2013
- Our firm has experience advocating for individuals in the midst of custody battles in Texas. For more information, please refer to our Houston child custody and visitation page.