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Nebraska Ruling Clarifies Custody Rights For Same-Sex Couples

Nebraska Ruling Clarifies Custody Rights For Same-Sex Couples

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Nebraska's Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday allowing a lesbian woman to seek custody and visitation rights of boy she co-parented despite having ended her relationship with the child's biological mother.

The Associated Press reports that after living together as a couple for more than 15 years, Teri Latham and Susan Schwerdtfeger of Omaha decided to have a child together. The women shared responsibility for choosing the sperm donor as well as the costs of the fertility treatments, and both concede that even though she was not a biological parent, Latham acted as the boy's mother for the first several years of his life.

While the women ended their romantic partnership in 2006, the court ruled that "the relationship between Latham and Schwerdtfeger ... is not the deciding factor. ... The record is clear that Schwerdtfeger consented to Latham's performance of parental duties. Schwerdtfeger encouraged Latham to assume the status of a parent."

The ruling sends the case between Latham and Schwerdtfeger back to a lower court, where hearings will determine whether Latham will be given visitation rights.

Latham's attorney, Tyler Block, called the decision a victory for same-sex and other non-married who share parenting responsibilities. "They got it exactly right," Block said. "They applied Nebraska law and helped give clarification on how it applies in these particular situations."

Read more here.

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