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When a heterosexual couple with fertility issues decide to use a sperm donor and artificial insemination, the husband of a woman who gives birth automatically becomes the presumptive — and legal — father of that child.

If the couple later splits, the husband still remains the legal father. Biology isn’t an issue. In fact, Illinois has also ruled that an unmarried man can still be the legal father of a child born to his girlfriend if she had artificial insemination and he consented.

Now, an Illinois court has essentially leveled the playing field for same-sex couples. They get to use the same rules as heterosexual couples when it comes to establishing their “parenthood” over a child born into the marriage.

The case before the Illinois Appellate Court involved a lesbian couple who married and eventually decided to have a child. One of the women conceived using donor sperm and artificial insemination. They were still a happy couple when their daughter was born and did all the normal things together that new parents do — they sent out birth announcements, signed the birth certificate and took some time off work to spend with their newborn.

Unfortunately, their marriage fell apart later — just like sometimes happens in heterosexual unions. They divorced. Some time during the aftermath, the biological mother decided to end the relationship between her ex-wife and the child.

The court has now formally determined that terminating their relationship based on the lack of a biological connection simply isn’t fair under the law when heterosexual couples are treated differently. While the biological mother isn’t happy with the outcome, others feel that it is a good day for same-sex rights. Same-sex parents who divorce would be entitled to both custody and visitation rights — and subject to child support rulings.

There are likely to be more cases like these in the future as the laws are challenged and finely-tuned in response to changes in the national sentiment toward same-sex rights.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “After lesbian couple splits, court rules nonbiological parent has right to child ex-wife carried,” Robert McCoppin, May 01, 2018