Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, March 21, 2016

Supreme Court Restores Visitation Rights to Lesbian Adoptive Mother

From The New York Times:

In a pair of unsigned opinions, the Supreme Court on Monday restored the rights of an adoptive mother who had split with her lesbian partner and reversed a murder conviction tainted by prosecutorial misconduct.

The adoption ruling reversed one by the Alabama Supreme Court, which had refused to recognize the woman’s adoptions of three children, which had been granted by a Georgia court in 2007.

The woman, identified in court papers as V.L., said she was overjoyed.

“I have been my children’s mother in every way for their whole lives,” she said in a statement. “I thought that adopting them meant that we would be able to be together always. When the Alabama court said my adoption was invalid and I wasn’t their mother, I didn’t think I could go on.”

The United States Supreme Court’s opinion, which had no noted dissents, said the Alabama court had violated the Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause. “A state may not disregard the judgment of a sister state because it disagrees with the reasoning underlying the judgment or deems it to be wrong on the merits,” the opinion said.

The two women in the case, V.L. v. E.L., No. 15-648, were in a committed relationship that started in 1995 and lasted about 17 years. They shared a last name.

One of them, identified in court papers as E.L., gave birth to a child in 2002 and to twins in 2004, both times by insemination from an anonymous donor. They raised the children together in Alabama until they broke up in 2011, and the adoptive mother, V.L., continued to see the children for a time afterward.

When a dispute about the visits arose, V.L. turned to an Alabama court, which granted her visitation rights based on the Georgia adoption judgment. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed that, saying in an unsigned opinion that the Georgia judgment was not entitled to the “full faith and credit” ordinarily required by the Constitution “to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.”

Read more here.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2016/03/supreme-court-restores-visitation-rights-to-lesbian-adoptive-mother.html

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