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LGBT Couples Family Law Cases in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County

  • Jacob v Shultz-Jacob; Shultz-Jacob v Jacob and Frampton: Jacob and Shultz-Jacob are a lesbian couple who have four children (2 were Shultz-Jacob’s nephews and two were Shultz-Jacob’s biological children conceived with Frampton’s sperm). Jacob sought full custody of all four children after the parties separated. The trial court awarded Jacob full legal custody of one of the children while Shultz-Jacob was awarded custody of the other three children (with Frampton being awarded partial physical custody one weekend per month of the two children he fathered). Shultz-Jacob appealed the trial court’s ruling. The Superior Court held that although Shultz-Jacob stood in loco parentis, the Court would not overturn the trial court’s ruling that it was in the best interest of the child to be placed in the primary physical custody of Jacob. Appellate also appealed from the trial court’s support order which held that Frampton (biological father) was not liable for a support obligation because he was not an indispensable party. As to this issue, the Superior Court held that both mothers and the biological father were obligated to provide support to children as they had all been awarded formal rights of custody. The Superior Court overturned the trial court’s ruling that Frampton (biological father) was not an indispensable party and remanded the case to the trial court to recalculate each litigant’s support obligation to children. 
  • L.S.K. v H.A.N: the parties are a lesbian couple; Mother conceived through artificial insemination via an anonymous sperm donor who relinquished all parental rights to any child Mother might bear. The non-biological mother cared for child during the day. The couple decided to have another child. Non-biological mother was supposed to carry the couple’s second child but was unable to. As a result, Mother again conceived through artificial insemination. This time, Mother gave birth to quadruplets. The couple separated when the quadruplets were 4 years old and Mother moved with all five children to California. The parties did not have a parentage agreement or written contract. Non-biological mother attempted to pursue custody rights with regards to the children while asserting that she did not have a legal obligation to pay child support for the children because there was no agreement for her to do so. The Superior Court affirmed that trial court’s ruling that non-biological mother stood in loco parentis and was obligated to pay child support for all five of the children. The decision was based on non-biological mother’s conduct in deciding to start a family with Mother, actively being involved in the pre-birthing process of all of the children (selecting names, attending childbirth classes, etc.) and being involved in the children’s day to day care, schooling, and health needs for over eight years.

NOTE: The cases listed are for informational purposes only and may have been amended or overturned by subsequently decided court cases.

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