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Closely watched: same-sex divorce case focused on child support

It’s an easy case from the perspective of the litigant who initially brought it and is now seeking to prevail on appeal.

That individual is a former spouse in a dissolved same-sex marriage who wants all her current legal duties owed as a parent to a child born to her ex-partner during marriage erased.

I didn’t agree to my then-partner’s pregnancy, she says. Moreover, I was deployed in the military when the child was born and never had any relationship with it.

Unsurprisingly, her former spouse makes legal arguments that starkly challenge the right to dissolve parental duties. She is asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to simply apply existing state law providing that the married partner of a woman who gives birth is the presumed legal parent of that child.

The case before the court has been called the first of its kind in the United States. Reportedly, most same-sex cases involving parental rights and/or duties have focused upon custody matters.

Understandably, as noted in one national media report on the story, gay rights’ groups and advocates are keenly focused on the case.

A key issue in the matter is whether the court will continue to apply existing law, which resulted in a lower-court ruling favoring the divorced mother. The attorney for the ex-spouse with support payments says that the law needs to change to better reflect a “changing landscape” for families

Many people disagree with that, though, noting that a reversal in the case would create a legal standard for same-sex couples that differs from that which is widely applicable to heterosexual couples in the United States.

Massachusetts law tracks the legislation in Hawaii and elsewhere across the country, holding that a legal spouse of a woman giving birth is the presumed parent of that child.

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