A July 5, 2016 decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals will affect unmarried same-sex couples. In Lake v Putnam, the court rejected a claim for custody and parenting time made by the former same-sex partner of the child’s biological mother, where the parties had been in a relationship for 13 years, the child was conceived during the relationship, and raised by both as parents. The relationship ended, and the biological mother took the child and denied parenting time to her ex. The trial court ruled that the non-biological parent had legal custody and parenting time rights under the “equitable-parent doctrine” because she raised the child, as a parent, since birth. The Court of Appeals reversed in a published (binding) decision, finding that the non-biological parent had no legal right to parent the child because the parties were never married. Recognizing the disharmony of its decision, given that the child looked to the plaintiff as a parent, the court noted that the answer rests in marriage.
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