Hawaii case draws attention to same-sex child support issues

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HONOLULU — National gay rights advocates are watching how a child support fight unfolds between a divorced lesbian couple in Hawaii, likely the first such case in the state’s Supreme Court, experts say.

A woman wants to sever her parental rights to a child her ex-wife gave birth to and is appealing a family court decision denying that request to the Hawaii Supreme Court, which is due to hear arguments on Thursday.

The couple, who are not identified in the confidential family court case, married in Washington, DC, in 2013 and moved to Hawaii due to military orders for the woman seeking to end to his parental rights.

“It’s unusual in that biology is used as a shield to escape parental obligation… With equal rights comes equal responsibility.”

Lambda Lawyer Peter Renn

Throughout the marriage, the couple discussed the possibility of having a child together, the court heard. While the woman was deployed between January and September 2015, his wife became pregnant through a sperm donor. The woman filed for divorce in October 2015 and the child was born while it was pending.

The family court denied her petition because it found that the Uniform Parentage Act and Hawaii’s Marriage Equality Act presume that the legal spouse of a woman who gives birth to a baby is the parent of that child. , regardless of the sex of the spouse.

“It’s a very important and timely issue in the LGBT community right now, how are states going to treat parents of children when there’s a same-sex married couple,” Cathy said. Sakimura, director of family law for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who is not involved in the case.

“Are they going to give them the same kind of recognition as any other couple or are they going to be given a different rule?” said Sakimura.

There are a handful of similar cases across the country, but the dispute in Hawaii is likely the first involving a same-sex married couple with a child support case in a state’s highest court, it said. she stated.

Most same-sex parenting cases involve a spouse who has not given birth to a child and wants custody, Sakimura said.

“It doesn’t happen that often in the world of gay parents, but there are few instances where they try to avoid child support,” she said.

In such cases, design is a key issue, Sakimura said.

“Did the spouse consent to the procedure and was he aware of it? And that’s what makes him a parent,” she said.

The case will test marriage equality, said Lambda Legal, a leading LGBTQ rights group that represents the woman who gave birth.

“It’s unusual in that biology is used as a shield to escape parental obligation,” Lambda attorney Peter Renn said. “With equal rights comes equal responsibility.”

Arguments take place in a high school auditorium because the case is being used to teach students about the courts.

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