Last week, a court in Virginia Beach, Virginia held that "of course" a woman who had no biological relation to a child was that child's mother. This may seem outlandish to some, but swift on the heels of recent court decisions across the county, this case seems to be part of the trend.
Lauren Poole and her estranged wife were married in 2013 in Maryland and the women conceived a child through a sperm donor in 2014. Ms. Poole raised the question as to her status regarding this child in a court case that was resolved last week. Karen, who was the biological mother of the child, had been limiting Ms. Poole's access to the child since the couple split up in 2014. The judge's decision last week will allow Ms. Poole the right to make custody decisions for the child after a protective order against her expires at the end of January. The parties will likely ultimately exercise shared custody of the child later this year.
Ms. Poole's attorney noted: "All of the laws all across the country are going to need to change to reflect the new legal landscape with regard to same-sex marriage, specifically with regards to parenting," This sentiment is reflected in recent court decisions across the country. Though Pennsylvania high courts have not issued specific decisions that speak to this, lower courts around the state have been grappling with this issue since same-sex marriage was legalized in Pennsylvania and across the country in 2015. The recent Pennsylvania Superior Court decision, which held the Sheri Shepard was the legal mother of a child to whom she was not biological related is likely telling of how our high courts will come down on this issue. Since the recent Supreme Court rulings, courts have been inclined to treat same-sex couples in the same way as they would opposite sex couples.
If you have questions or concerns about your status as a non-biological parent, contact our Pittsburgh office today!