The Florida Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that a woman who donated an egg to her lesbian partner has parental rights to the child they conceived. The child in question was born to the couple in 2004. The women had agreed to conceive a child with the assistance of reproductive technology. The donor and the birth mother were in a committed relationship and raised the child together from the child's birth until the end of their relationship in 2006. The birth mother then disappeared, taking the child with her. The donor eventually located the birth mother with their child in Australia and pursued custody rights. The trial judge ruled in favor of the birth mother, basing his decision on a 1993 state law [text] which truncated the rights of sperm and egg donors. He wrote that it was his wish that the decision be overturned, but he could not find rights under the law for the donor mother. The Supreme Court found that there had been an agreement between the two women which differentiates this from other scenarios involving sperm and egg donors. The child had been conceived with the intent that both women would raise it once it was born. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court for the issues of custody, child support and visitation to be considered.
Child custody and support issues have been the subject of many state court decisions in recent years. In 2012 the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that same-sex couples who marry and have a child through artificial insemination are subject to the same child custody laws [JURIST report] as heterosexual couples. In the same year, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that same sex partners could pursue custody of an adopted child [JURIST report] after their relationship with the partner has dissolved. In May 2009, a New York state appeals court ruled that child support claims cannot be brought against same-sex partners [JURIST report] who have no biological or legal ties to a child. In 2005, the California Supreme Court ruled that estranged same-sex couples who created a child using reproductive science [JURIST report] were to be treated the same as heterosexual parents under child custody and support laws.