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In Same-Sex Couple Dispute, Indiana Court Of Appeals Calls For Lawmakers To Refine Definition Of ‘Parent’

On October 31, 2013, the Indiana Court of Appeals published its Opinion in the case, A.C.
vs. N.J. (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), holding that a same sex domestic partner who was not the
biological parent of a child born during the domestic relationship has standing to seek
visitation with the child after the relationship has ended. Of course, even with standing,
the partner seeking visitation must prove it is in the best interests of the child to be
awarded visitation.

We are very excited about the ruling on this issue in this case, as our
firm represented the partner seeking visitation. Our client had been previously denied the
right to see the little boy she had been raising with her partner since his birth. We are so
happy that this little boy, and perhaps others like him in the future, will be able to see
his “Mommy” even after the end of the adults’ relationship, as long as it is in his best

We were also pleasantly surprised to see that our client’s case was the headline story in
the Indianapolis Star on November 1, 2013.


Although the Star and others looking at the A.C. case from the outside may see the case as
one solely about gay rights, as in whether or not same sex partners should be granted or
denied the rights and obligations of parenthood for the children born via artificial
insemination during a domestic partnership, the case should instead be seen as a step toward
giving the children born into same sex relationships the same rights as children born into
heterosexual relationships. Under Indiana law, after a legal marriage ends in divorce, the
step-parent to a child of his former spouse may be granted Court Ordered visitation with the
child if it is in the best interests of the child. However, in Indiana same sex partners may
not legally marry and so far all indications are that same sex couples who have legally
married in a State which recognizes marriage for same sex partners will not be recognized in
Indiana – the latter being a point this author would like to appeal. Nevertheless, the
State’s failure to recognize same sex marriage should not equate to a failure to give equal
consideration to the needs of the children born into those relationships.

The Court of Appeals in A.C. vs. N.J. made a great start in putting the needs and
interests of all children on a level playing field. Duvall & Fall, P.C. was
privileged to be a part of making this piece of history for the betterment of Indiana

*Disclaimer: The author is licensed to practice in the state of Indiana. The information contained above is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. Laws vary by state and region. Furthermore, the law is constantly changing. Thus, the information above may no longer be accurate at this time. No reader of this content, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included herein without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.