same-sex coupleRecently, the Michigan Supreme Court stated that a woman can seek custody of her partner’s child who was born before the same-sex relationship ended. The mother, Carrie Pueblo, who had no biological ties to a boy that was born to her same-sex partner had helped to raise him. Pueblo insisted that they would have been married if same-sex marriages had been legal in Michigan.

Same-sex marriages were declared legal throughout the United States by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015, after Pueblo and her partner had broken up. “While this decision likely directly affects few, it is nonetheless important for what it represents,” stated Justice Megan Cavenaugh in authoring the courts 5-2 opinion. “Justice does not depend on family composition; all who petition for recognition of their parental rights are entitled to equal treatment under the law.” Cavenaugh wrote.

Pueblo had helped to raise the minor child after the relationship ended. Even though the child was born outside of the marriage and Pueblo had no biological connection to the boy. In the Equitable Parent Doctrine, she should be awarded parental rights according to the Michigan Supreme Court decision. The Court directed that Pueblo could return to the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court and show that she and the child’s biological mother would have been married, if it was possible, when the boy was born through invitro fertilization.

This case is very important to same-sex couples who for whatever reason choose to have a child together but did not become married. In my opinion, the Equitable Parent Doctrine rational of this case could also be extended to cases where same-sex parties who did not expressly contemplate marriage nevertheless chose to have and raise a child together. What should govern in such cases, like all custody cases, is the relationship between “the parents” and the minor child/children and what is in the child/children’s best interest.

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