Georgia Court Upholds Parental Rights After Lesbian 'Divorce'

A second-parent adoption by a lesbian couple was upheld by the Georgia Court of Appeals recently. The court did not make a statement on whether Georgia's ban on same-sex marriage would have an overall effect on second-parent adoptions in the state.

The biological mother became pregnant through an anonymous sperm donor five years ago. At the time, she wanted her partner to adopt the child so they both could have parental rights. They pursued a second-parent adoption, which was approved in Fulton County. After the couple broke up in 2010, the biological mother went back to the Fulton County courts in an attempt to get the adoption voided. The court refused to terminate the nonbiological mother's right.

The biological mother then pursued the case in the Court of Appeals and ultimately the state Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals dismissed the case and the state Supreme Court decided not to hear it.

The nonbiological mother had filed for child custody in Henry County, where the biological mother was living. After the state Supreme Court would not hear her case, the biological mother entered a motion in Henry County to dismiss the case based on the fact that second-parent adoptions between non-married couples are not legal in Georgia.

A Henry County Superior Court judge agreed with the biological mother, going further in stating that Georgia's 2004 amendment banning same-sex marriages in the state also made the second-parent adoption illegal as well.

The adoptive parent appealed the Henry County ruling, and the Georgia Court of Appeals has now sided with her, stating that the Fulton County ruling is valid. However, it is important to note that the Court of Appeals' ruling was based mostly on procedural issues. The court did not go as far as to say that second-parent adoptions by same-sex partners would be legal in all cases.

Source: GA Voice, "Ga. appeals court upholds second-parent adoption in lesbian 'divorce' case," Dyana Bagby, July 18, 2012.

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