Same-sex custody battle taking a toll on Pennsylvania woman

As Pennsylvania residents are well aware, a federal judge this week struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, clearing the way for many same-sex couples in our state who have been patiently waiting to get married. Of course, not everyone will have waited for this decision to make their life plans; some people went to other states to get married, while others have been living together as a family for many years.

For those folks, the recent ruling might be bittersweet. Many couples have gotten together, had children, and then split up. Due to differing laws in different states at the time of their various life events, issues such as child custody may have been handled differently than if they had been able to get married before starting their families.

One Pennsylvania woman has been experiencing these difficulties for some time. She and her partner met in Pennsylvania and had a marriage ceremony there in 2007, knowing that it had no legal effect. They later moved to California, were recognized as domestic partners, and had a child via artificial insemination.

After moving back to Pennsylvania, the couple had a second child. Last year, the couple split up; the woman who gave birth to the children stayed with them in the family home, while the other partner sought custody. However, because she wasn’t listed on the birth certificate of the second child, due to Pennsylvania law, courts have so far refused to grant her any custody rights.

These issues may become moot in the future, now that same-sex couples can be married here. But there are still many couples who will continue to have to deal with a patchwork of laws as a result of their existing situations.

Source: York Dispatch, “Former Yorker embroiled in same-sex custody battle,” Christina Kauffman, May 7, 2014

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