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A state Court of Appeals recently ordered a woman to return the child support payments she had received from her former partner pursuant to a previous court order. The payments will be returned because the woman’s partner is not a biological or legal parent to the child. The situation arose when the two women were in a relationship years ago and decided to have a child. One of them, who currently has full custody, is the biological mother. The other woman never adopted the child and they were not married at the time of the birth, so she has no legal ties.

However, the two raised the child together for eight years from her birth until they split up. Because of this, the court asserted that the woman who is not the mother should still have visitation rights.

As is often the case in complex cases like this one, the guiding factors included relevant state family law as well as the best interests of the child. According to the decision, the child’s best interests would be served by maintaining a relationship with the other woman, and so the court awarded her ongoing visitation rights despite the mother’s attempts to revoke those rights.

It might seem like a strange situation to even offer to pay child support when one has no real legal obligation to begin with, but this case offers insight into the different ways that people view family and the moral and emotional considerations at play in custody and support cases.

Source: Journal Sentinel, “Court says no child support due in split of same-sex couple,” Bruce Vielmetti, Sept. 6, 2013.