A recent Maryland case, Conover v. Conover, established that the nonbiological parent in a same sex marriage can have standing to seek custody and/or visitation when a “de facto” parental relationship has been established. In Conover, the parents had been in a relationship since 2002. In 2010, one of the parents gave birth to a child, resulting from being artificially inseminated by an anonymous sperm donor. Unfortunately, the couple separated in 2011. To make matters worse, their post-separation relationship degenerated and eventually, Michelle Conover was refused visitation.
After litigation in the Circuit Court for Washington Court, the Maryland Appellate Court awarded Michelle visitation with the minor child because the parties, through their actions both before and after the child’s birth, established a “de facto” parental relationship. Therefore, it was in the child’s best interest for the relationship to continue.
The legally significant aspect of this case is that Michelle was no longer considered a “third party” for custody/visitation issues. As a result of the mutual actions of the parties, over an extended period of time, Michelle’s relationship with the child became worthy of legal recognition. We, at this firm, believe that this was a significant case holding.