The lesbian former partner of a woman who bore five children during their relationship must pay child support, despite the partner's argument that she is neither the biological nor adoptive parent, a Pennsylvania superior court panel has ruled. The couple, identified only by initials in the three-judge panel's opinion, lived together in Carlisle, Pa., from the mid 1980s until 1997 and agreed to have children together through artificial insemination. The partner, identified as H.A.N., stayed at home and cared for the children while the biological mother returned to work in a civilian job for the Navy. After the couple split up, H.A.N. successfully sought custody of the children during summers and school breaks but argued that she should not have to pay child support.
A Cumberland County common pleas judge ordered H.A.N. to pay back and current child support. H.A.N. appealed to the superior court, which upheld the lower court's order. "It is clear from the record that H.A.N. acted as a 'co-parent' with mother in all areas concerning the children's conception, care, and support," Judge Joan Orie Melvin wrote in an opinion issued Tuesday. A lawyer for the biological mother, who now lives in California, said the case is one of the first appellate-level decisions requiring a nonbiological parent to pay child support to her lesbian former partner. "It puts lesbian and gay parents on notice that the courts will not tolerate blowing hot and cold when it comes to the assertion of parental rights and the assumption of parental duties," said attorney Mark Momjian. "Nonbiological parents who bring children into this world are going to be held financially accountable for their actions."