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Baltimore County Family Law Attorney Blog

Baltimore County Family Lawyer Discusses The Definition of a Father

Written by Amar Weisman » February 17, 2017 »

Throughout history, parenthood has followed rigidly defined terms, most notably holding to the assumption of the parents being married and in a heterosexual relationship. However, society today is different from society 200, 100, and even 50 years ago. Social norms are changing. And, as a result, the definition of parenthood is changing, too.

Although commonly held beliefs regarding the marital status and sexual orientation of parents have begun to evolve, the law has not. Until now. Last year, Maryland courts defined ‘de facto’ parent, setting a new standard in recognizing de facto parent rights.

Late last summer, the case, Conover v. Conover, inspired the new changes with regard to who can be considered a parent. When a same sex couple filed for divorce, the biological mother of their son—who had been conceived through artificial insemination—refused to grant visitation to her estranged ex wife.

The Washington County judge who adjudicated the case upheld the decision to not grant the non-related parent the right to see their child, saying that the verdict was in line with a 2008 Court of Appeals case that rejected the idea of de facto parents.

However, the case went on to the highest state courts, where the initial decision was reversed. Currently, de facto parenting is not addressed in any Maryland statues. As a result, the courts looked to a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that said, “That the biological or adoptive parent consented to and fostered the third party's parent-like relationship, that they lived together in the same household, that the de facto parent took on significant responsibility for the child's care, education and development without expectation of financial reward, and the parental relationship lasted long enough for them to be bonded and the child to feel dependent.”

It’s possible that the issue of de facto parents may be brought up in the General Assembly. But for now, this ruling aligns Maryland with numerous other states that have taken the leap to define de facto parent rights, in light of modern day social norms.

What Does This Mean for You?

For many, this decision will be a welcome relief. Now, it seems, the law may be coming up to speed, recognizing the many ways that an individual can be a parent.  Whether you are biologically related is now less of an issue, as the courts are finally coming to understand the importance of the emotional bonds and time investment that also constitute parenthood.

If you’re preparing to enter into child custody disputes, have questions, and are ready to take the next step, a Towson family attorney is here to help.

Call (410) 321-4994 For a Free Consultation 

Call The Law Offices of Amar S. Weisman at (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free ConsultationThe Purpose of the consultation is to determine whether you want to retain this law firm as your Baltimore County & Harford County Family Lawyer. If you do wish to proceed, then you must pay a retainer. See Our Policy on Fees and Costs. The family firm is located next to The Circuit Court for Baltimore County, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204.