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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 18, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 51
SCOTUS overrules Alabama Supreme Court, orders visitation rights for divorced Lesbian mom
Section One
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SCOTUS overrules Alabama Supreme Court, orders visitation rights for divorced Lesbian mom

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered emergency visitation rights for a divorced Lesbian mother, reversing a decision by the Alabama Supreme Court.

The woman, identified only as 'VL,' married her now-ex-wife, 'EL,' and had three children with her. EL was the biological birth mother, but VL shared responsibility for raising their children, who are now 13, 11, and 11.

To get adoption rights for VL, the couple established a temporary residence in Georgia. When they subsequently divorced, a Georgia court granted VL joint custody of the children.

EL sued in Alabama, their permanent residence, to retain sole custody of the children, arguing that she alone was their biological mother. EL also wants to deny visitation rights to VL.

Ultimately the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in the case, deciding that the Georgia court was in error in giving VL joint custody because VL's adoption of the three children was invalid.

'The Georgia court had no authority under Georgia law to award such an adoption, which is therefore void and not entitled to full faith and credit,' EL's lawyers argued, and the Alabama high court agreed.

VL appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking for a restoration of joint custody. That case is still pending.

However she also filed an emergency request for visitation rights, since she hasn't seen the children since April. In respect to visitation rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that she should be able to visit the children, despite EL's objections.

VL was represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

'I'm overjoyed that my children and I will be able to be together again,' VL said in a statement.

'It's been so long - more time that I ever thought I could bear - since we have been able to be together and just do the everyday things that parents do with their children, like having dinner together and helping them with their homework. I adopted my children more than eight years ago to be sure that I could always be there to protect them. This terrible Alabama decision has hurt my family and will hurt so many other families if it is not corrected.'

Adoption rights for same-sex couples is one of the issues remaining in the wake of the high court's June decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

More than 20 states allow Gay and Lesbian couples to make 'second-parent adoptions.' In other words, the spouse of the biological parent may adopt their spouse's children, and the children thereby acquire two legal parents.

In the event of divorce, spouses who had undertaken second-parent adoptions would qualify for joint custody of their children, while spouses who had not done so would have a lesser legal claim on their ex-spouse's children.

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