National Center for Lesbian Rights

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child custody

Chatterjee v. King

Bani Chatterjee and her partner, Taya King, were in a committed, long-term relationship and decided to raise a child together through international adoption. Because they could not adopt jointly due to discrimination against same-sex couples, only Taya legally adopted their child from abroad. Although Bani did not adopt their daughter, Taya and Bani co-parented their daughter, and Bani supported the family financially. Bani and Taya eventually ended their relationship after they had lived...

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Atala Riffo v. Chile

On May 31, 2004, a Chilean Court ordered Karen Atala Riffo, herself a judge in Chile, to relinquish custody of her three children to her estranged husband because she is a lesbian and living with her female partner. The Supreme Court of Chile based its decision on the long-discredited and unsupportable notion that being raised by lesbian parents is harmful for children. With no legal recourse left in Chile, Ms. Atala took her case to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHCHR) in...

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Debra H. v. Janice R.

Debra H. and Janice R. were a same-sex couple living in New York who planned to have a child together and entered a Vermont civil union. After Janice gave birth to a child conceived through alternative insemination, Debra and Janice lived together and parented their child together for over two years. After the couple separated, Debra continued to visit the child regularly, until Janice cut off contact when the child was four-and-a-half years old. A trial court awarded Debra visitation, and...

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Charisma R. v. Kristina S.

Charisma R. and Kristina S. were in a committed relationship for 6 years. They decided to have children together, and Kristina gave birth to their child in 2003. They started a baby journal and sent out a joint birth announcement. Charisma and Kristina cared for their child together, and Charisma provided the primary care after Kristina returned to work. When their child was only a few months old, Kristina abruptly left their shared home and refused to allow Charisma to have any contact with...

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Smith v. Quale

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...

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Embry v. Ryan

Lara Embry (L.E.) and Kimberly Ryan (K.R.) are a female couple who had two children together in Washington. Each partner gave birth to one child, and each adopted her non-biological child through a second-parent adoption in Washington. The couple moved to Florida, and their relationship ended several years later. They entered into an agreement and successfully shared equal custody and visitation with both children until K.R. broke the agreement. Although the children had been raised together...

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In re J.D.F.

T.L. and D.F., a lesbian couple, planned to have a child together. D.F. gave birth to their child, J.D.F. In order to protect the child’s relationship with both parents, the couple entered into a court-approved joint custody agreement. Several years later, T.L. and D.F. separated and agreed to share custody. But in 2004, Ohio’s anti-LGBTQ constitutional amendment excluding same-sex couples from marriage was passed. D.F. began to prevent T.L. from seeing their child, arguing that...

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