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Woman wins the right to seek visitation or custody of stepchild

In what looks like a positive step for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parental community, a New Jersey appellate court granted a lesbian woman the right to seek visitation with a child she helped raise based on the psychological parent doctrine. The ruling came down on Wednesday, Aug. 6 and included language that makes it plain the court was looking out for the child. Specifically, the court found that the lesbian stepmother could seek visitation or even custody if maintaining a strong relationship was in the best interest of the child.

A news report said the woman became part of the child's life when he was 18 months old by entering into a committed relationship with the boy's biological mother. The couple remained together sharing a domestic for seven years. The report also said that the two women shared custody of the boy with a third party, his adoptive mother. Reportedly, the child's biological mother tried to prevent any contact between the boy and her former partner after the two broke their relationship.

The stepmother took the matter to court in an attempt to acquire visitation and custodial rights, but a trial court dismissed her case, saying ruling it would not recognize the stepparent as a psychological parent because the boy already had two parents. The appeals court's reasons for disagreeing centers on the psychological parent doctrine, which is designed to protect children from psychological harm due to the termination of a parent-child bond.

This ruling helps highlight the importance of strong, consistent parenting, regardless of the gender of the parents. If more people like the boy's stepmother choose to legally fight for the right to remain in contact with the children they help to raise, our kids might grow up to be stronger, more well-adjusted adults. When followed through correctly, the justice system really can provide solutions.

Source: Gay Star News, "Lesbian stepparent in New Jersey wins right to seek visitation of child she helped raise" Greg Hernandez, Aug. 06, 2014

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