Same Sex Marriage and Child Custody
Updated: Oct 17
I recently read an article about a partner of a same-sex couple fighting for custody of an adopted child. The Court ruled that a same-sex partner of an adoptive mother can’t seek child custody but may request visitation. The New Mexico State laws provide no legal right for the woman to seek custody of a child that was adopted by her partner during their 15 year relationship.
The court’s majority said the state’s child custody law applies to biological or adoptive parents. The rationale is that an unmarried partner of an adoptive parent can’t seek child custody and since New Mexico does not offer marriage to same sex couples.
The custody dispute involves Bani Chatterjee and Taya King. Taya King adopted the child because of concerns that Russian adoption agencies would object to two same-sex parents. The couple separated in 2008, and King moved to Colorado. Chatterjee filed a lawsuit in state district court asking a judge to declare her a parent and decide custody and visitation. Chatterjee states she had shared in raising the child for nine years and there was a parent-child relationship, but the judge dismissed her case.
New Mexico law does not provide for same-sex marriages, and proposals have been futile in the effort to establish domestic partnerships. Domestic partnership status would provide unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples the legal protections of married couples.
The appeals court did not decide whether Chatterjee should be granted visitation rights, only that she can go back to district court and ask.
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