Illinois joined a handful of states recently when Governor Quinn signed the civil union law. Civil unions will be available to both heterosexual and same-sex couples, but same-sex couples celebrated the law a little more heartily. Other states have made headlines recently with decisions that bode well for same-sex relationships -- in particular, a decision from an unlikely venue regarding a child visitation agreement.
The couple involved in the case live in Arkansas, a state that does not recognize civil unions. More importantly, Arkansas doesn't allow co-habiting same-sex couples to adopt. (Illinois does.) The restriction meant that the couple had no law to guide them when they split up and determined custody of their daughter.
The child was conceived about four years into the women's relationship. The birth mother -- we'll call her M -- went back to work after the daughter arrived. Her partner, "P," was not biologically related to the child, but they gave the child her last name. P stayed home, acting as the primary caregiver. P's parents also helped out with the child; M's family was not involved.
The couple broke up in 2008, agreeing to co-parent their daughter. When P violated their agreement by keeping the child out longer than the 24 hours they'd agreed to, M terminated P's visitation rights. P asked the court to settle the matter.
The circuit court found for P. The judge stated that visitation with P would be in the child's best interests. M disagreed, and she took an interesting tack in her argument.
We'll talk about that in our next post.
Source: AOL Parent Dish, "Lesbian Co-Mother Awarded Visitation by Arkansas Supreme Court," Honey Berk, 02/24/11