Quick Update: CA Lesbian Mother Case Settles

A while back I wrote about a case called Smith v. Quale.   The post garnered a lot of comments.  (In fact, it’s listed as the top post right now, even though it’s some weeks old.)   Since there seemed to be that much interest, I figured I’d offer this brief and rather enigmatic update:  The case has settled.   No details are available save that both women are recognized as legal parents of the twins.

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5 responses to “Quick Update: CA Lesbian Mother Case Settles

  1. Did Wallace have any standing in the case? If so, he would have had to settle too.

    • I don’t think he had standing in the case, nor was he part of the settlement. CA law provides that a donor is not a father and I don’t think he advanced any other basis on which he had rights. He remains, of course, a known donor. But I have no idea what his continuing relationship with the two mothers is.

  2. He visited them from out of state multiple times since they were under a month old, and then moved in to take care of them when their previous caretaker moved out. Does holding out and caregiving count for anything in your philosophy, or is that only an option for non genetic related persons?

  3. Julie, what does it mean that the two women settled?
    Should legal parenthood be decided by a private agreement between two individuals? At the very least there should be a court order, an established law or a verdict determining so.

    The court may use the agreement as a criteria, but ultimately it should be in there hands.

    Family suits are not the same as monetary suits where a settlement is appropriate.

    Imagine a heterosexual ex- couple. The mother might settle; waiving child support, but I doubt she could do so in return for her ex-husband relinquishing parental status. Only a court could relieve him of that.

    • I think you are quite right to raise concerns about the potential that deals are made in settling parentage cases. My guess is that the court would have to approve any settlement–that’s generally the case in suits about child custody. (That said, courts do not frequently second-guess parties who have worked out a mutally agreeable child custody arrangment and that may create problems, akin to the ones you raise.)

      I think this case was basically a custody case. Since the law arose in CA, it was actually fairly clear from the beginning that both women were legal parents. In that sense, recognizing that each woman had legal rights is only a small piece of the settlement, though it’s important to me. The main settlement would be about where the child lives, who makes decisions, etc. And I would guess the court did have to review and approve that.

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