Woman Denied Custody of Child With Ex-Wife & Labeled a 'Third Party'

gavelToday in heartbreaking custody battle news: A Maryland appeals court has ruled that a woman has no visitation rights or custody of a child her former partner gave birth to before the couple married ... all because the woman is a lesbian. Wait, what?!

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Now 5 years old, Jaxon Conover was born six months before Michelle Conover married his biological mom, Brittany Conover, and 17 months before the couple divorced. Now, a Washington County circuit judge has decreed that Michelle has no parental standing over the boy, even though she helped to raise him, because she's not a blood relation. But is that fair?

Details of the case (such as how amicable -- or not -- Michelle and Brittany's split has been) aren't available, but this does seem like a clear case of discrimination. After all, wouldn't a dad in this case be granted some degree of rights?

Even Judge Robert A. Zarnoch wrote that "clearer laws governing the rights of same-sex couples need to be established by state legislators," implying that this legal ambiguity is why he ruled that Michelle is a "third party" and not a second parent. 

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Now, I'm not a lawyer -- and, as I said, we don't know all the details of the case -- but why couldn't the judge make a decision based on Michelle and Brittany's formerly married status? It just doesn't make sense.

And it's a sad reminder that even though same-sex marriage has been legalized, the judicial system still has some catching up to do. (Just take the case of the Kentucky woman who insists on continuing to deny same sex couples marriage licenses on the basis that she's acting "under God's authority.")

Let's just hope that little Jaxon isn't suffering in some way from this decision, because that would be tragic. And if so, that the situation is remedied as soon as possible.

 

Image via Chris Potter/Flickr

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