Cases & Advocacy

Smith v. Quale

Status: Closed

Outcome: Victory

Location: California

Kim Smith and Maggie Quale are two women who were in a committed romantic relationship for over two years. They held a commitment ceremony before family and friends in January 2008. They decided to have children together and, after Maggie was unable to get pregnant using sperm from a sperm bank, they ended up using a friend’s boyfriend as a sperm donor. Kim and Maggie paid the donor $540 for his sperm from their joint bank account.

They had twins, and raised them together for approximately six months before breaking up. The donor did not meet the twins until they were approximately one month old, and only saw them at most five times during the first six months of the babies’ lives. After the break-up, Maggie severely limited contact between Kim and the twins. Kim then filed a parentage action in Santa Cruz County family court, asserting her parental rights and requesting joint custody. As a defense to Kim’s parentage action, Maggie asked the sperm donor to return from a distant state, file a paternity action, and move in with her and the twins.

Kim was granted joint custody of the twins‚–and substantial visitation‚–by the Santa Cruz County court in preliminary hearings. On February 18, 2010, Kim and Maggie were able to settle their case, in a resolution that recognizes both women as the legal parents of their twins.

Kim Smith is represented by NCLR, Deborah Wald, and local counsel Donna Becker, with pro bono assistance from Robert Depew of the firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati.