Margaret K. and Janice M. adopted a daughter during their committed relationship of 17 years. Because they adopted their daughter from India, which does not allow unmarried couples to adopt, only Janice adopted the child, but she and Margaret raised their daughter together. When their daughter was 7, Margaret and Janice separated and Janice refused to allow Margaret to see their daughter.
An intermediate appellate court found that Margaret has a parent-child relationship with her daughter and granted visitation, but did not find that Margaret could be eligible to receive full custody. Janice appealed the visitation order, and Margaret appealed the custody order. Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, affirmed the custody order and reversed the visitation order. The Court of Appeals reversed the intermediate appellate court’s recognition of Margaret’s parent-child relationship with her daughter and ruled that Maryland does not recognize as parents persons who are not related to a child through biology or adoption. The court send the case back to the trial court for a determination of whether there are “extraordinary circumstances” sufficient to allow Margaret to continue to have visitation with her daughter even though Margaret is not recognized as a parent under Maryland law.
NCLR submitted an amicus brief to the intermediate court of appeals with co-counsel the ACLU and the Public Justice Center supporting Margaret. NCLR also submitted an amicus brief supporting Margaret to Maryland’s highest court on behalf the University Of Baltimore School of Law Family Law And Family Mediation Clinics.