Phoenix, AZ – A couple is in the middle of a custody battle that could change the legal definition of a parent in Arizona.
According to AZCentral, the ruling in a divorce case between a same-sex couple could have a lasting effect on children in Arizona who were born through artificial insemination. The case is currently before the Arizona Supreme Court and is part of longstanding efforts to redefine Arizona laws that are following rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court that granted the right to marry to same-sex couples.
Phoenix divorce attorney who is representing a biological mother in one of the many custody cases, Keith Berkshire, tells AZCentral that the Supreme Court has left certain ideas and statements open-ended, which forces the “lower courts to fill in the blanks.”
Specifically, the ongoing argument is over a ruling from two years ago. The U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage for same-sex couples, which has since required Arizona to interpret all marriage-related laws, such as child custody and divorce laws, in a gender-neutral way.
As a result, Arizona is currently debating whether or not parental rights should go by biology or by a marriage certificate. While Democratic lawmakers want to change hundreds of Arizona statutes that define marriage and parentage as between a husband and wife, the Republican Legislature is not interested. Since neither side can agree, it is now the courts’ judgement call.
Whatever the outcome is, it will affect not only same-sex couples, but all couples in Arizona. Claudia Work, a Phoenix divorce lawyer whose clients include several non-biological parents currently vying for custody rights against their estranged same-sex spouses, says this means any married man currently raising a child that is not his “can lose their child the minute the wife decides to play the DNA card.”
Ultimately, if the Arizona State Court rules that the statute is not about marriage and instead all about biology, it threatens to completely eliminate the parental rights for thousands of gay and straight marriages who have non-biological parents of children born through artificial insemination. While over 24 states have separate statutes outlining parental rights in artificial insemination cases, Arizona is not one of them.
Work further elaborates that by Arizona not having a separate statute protecting the non-biological parent, a court ruling that the state law applies only to biological parents would catapult parental rights in Arizona into chaos. Custody battles in Arizona divorce cases would result in thousands of children losing a parent virtually overnight.
If you live in Phoenix and are worried about how the rulings in these Arizona divorce cases will affect your custody battle, it’s time to consult an experienced divorce attorney. USAttorneys.com has some of the most qualified divorce lawyers in Phoenix who have the answers you are looking for. Not only will their legal knowledge prepare you for what to expect with your divorce case, but it will also help ensure the court rules in your favor.
Contact our divorce attorneys in Phoenix today to schedule a free case evaluation.