Parental Rights Between Divorced Same Sex Couples

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By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Child Visitation Attorney

V.C. vs M.J.B. is about a same-sex couple that happily enjoyed a relationship for almost a decade.  Early on, around the third year of their relationship, M.J.B. decided along with V.C. that she should undergo an artificial insemination procedure, so that they could have a child.  They eventually went through with the procedure and M.J.B. gave birth to two children.   As the years went on, the relationship between M.J.B. and V.C. deteriorated and they broke up.  M.J.B. took primary care of the children and for a period of about a year, she allowed V.C. to see the children on the weekends.  However, this too, came to an end and V.C. was no longer allowed to see the children.

Counsel for M.J.B. argued that V.C. was not a parent, since the children were not biologically related to her.  V.C.’s counsel argued that V.C. was actually a “psychological parent.”  Both parties argued their respective positions on the following four factors, so that the judge would come to a conclusion as to whether V.C. was a psychological parent, which in turn would mean she had parental rights.  If the court found that V.C. deserved parental rights according to the four factors of psychological parenthood, then M.J.B. would be legally compelled to let her see the children.

First, a plaintiff must prove that the third party does not consent to the continued relationship between the third party and the child.  Second, the third party must have lived with the child and fostered a significant relationship with the child.  Third, the third party must have performed parental functions for the child to a significant degree.  Fourth, the parent-child bond must be formed.

In this case, the court ruled that V.C. did in fact have parental rights because they determined she was a psychological parent.  The court reasoned that she was a parent to her former domestic partner’s children since she and the children had once lived in a family setting and they formed a bonded relationship.  V.C. helped them out with school projects, she took them to and from school.  She cooked meals for them and bonded with them.  The children also considered her to be a parental figure and influential one in their lives when they testified in front of the court.

To discuss your NJ Child Visitation matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

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