On August 26, 2011, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued a decision that serves to clarify the custody rights of same-sex couples in the state, ruling that Teri Latham, a non-biologically related woman, can pursue custody and visitation rights now that her relationship with Susan Schwerdtfeger, the child’s biological mother, has ended as there was adequate evidence to say the non-biologically related woman had been acting as the minor’s parent during the life of the relationship.
As such, the court gave permission for Latham and Schwerdtfeger to take their custody case back to the lower courts to decide whether Latham, the non-biologically related parent, should be granted visitation rights.
Helpful background on the Latham and Schwerdtfeger relationship:
- The two lived together as a couple for more than 15 years before having a son together in 2001.
- The two women chose a sperm donor together and shared the cost of the fertility treatments for Schwerdtfeger’s pregnancy.
- Both sides agreed Latham acted as the boy’s mother for the first several years of his life before the relationship ended in 2006.
The Court noted that the relationship between Latham and Schwerdtfeger was not the deciding factor. In this case, “the record is clear that Schwerdtfeger consented to Latham’s performance of parental duties. Schwerdtfeger encouraged Latham to assume the status of a parent.”
For the full articles see: NE Court Issues Important Same-Sex Parent Custody Ruling and Associated Press: Neb. High Court Clarifies Same Sex Custody Rights