Marci Frazier and Kelly Goudschaal were in a same-sex relationship and decided to have children together through insemination. Kelly was the birth mother for their two children, who they then raised for many years as co-parents. They gave the children hyphenated last names, and the two mothers signed a written agreement saying that they both intended to be parents and share custody of the children. Unfortunately, the relationship between Kelly and Marci broke down in 2008. They co-parented the children for a period of time after separation, but then Kelly cut off contact between Marci and the children.
After Marci went to court to try to see the children again, a Kansas trial court granted joint custody to the two women. Kelly appealed this order and argued that Marci was not a parent and had no right to seek custody. The Kansas Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling and explained that both women should be legally recognized as parents under Kansas law. The court also explained that an agreement to co-parent children and share custody is enforceable and the court can decide custody based on the best interests of the child.
NCLR, the ACLU of Kansas & Western Missouri, and the ACLU Foundation submitted an amicus brief in support of recognizing both mothers. Amicus briefs in support of the non-biological mother were also filed by the National Association of Social Workers, represented by Stephanie Goodenow, and Washburn University School of Law Children and Family Law Center.
Marci Frazier was represented by Kansas Attorneys Dennis J. Stanchik and Valerie L. Moore.