Hangley Aronchick attorneys Helen Casale and Adam Schupack recently filed an amicus brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on behalf of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”), Pennsylvania Chapter, contending that the non-biological mother of a child born to a same-sex couple has in loco parentis standing to seek some form of custody of the child.

The case, C.G. v. J.H., No. 2 MAP 2018, involved former same-sex partners who had a commitment ceremony and lived together with their child as a family for nearly six years, but who separated before same-sex marriage became lawful. After the relationship ended, the non-biological mother, C.G., sought some form of custody of the child. Both the trial court and the Superior Court, however, concluded that C.G. could not petition for custody because she lacked standing as a parent or as one who stood in loco parentis to the child, effectively closing the courthouse doors to her.

In its brief, the AAML Pennsylvania Chapter argues that the lower court decisions were inconsistent with more than 20 years of Pennsylvania precedent recognizing that the same-sex partner of the biological mother of a child born during their relationship has in loco parentis standing to seek custody, as well as with the Legislature’s intent in adding in loco parentis standing to the Child Custody Act in 2010. Strong policy reasons undergird this law, Casale and Schupack noted, including the recognition of a child’s deep attachment to someone who acts as a parent, the provision of an additional avenue of support for children, and the Commonwealth’s recognition of, and respect for, non-traditional families. In addition to same-sex couples, that includes thousands of Pennsylvania children being raised by grandparents, extended family, and close friends.

The AAML is one of the nation’s leading family law organizations. Its more than 1,650 Fellows are recognized as preeminent family law practitioners with a high level of knowledge, skill, and integrity. The Pennsylvania Chapter’s more than 60 Fellows include the Commonwealth’s leading practitioners of family law, who are looked to by bench and bar for their expertise and leadership on legal issues impacting families.

The Hangley Aronchick team also included paralegal Tara Amenhauser.

Read the brief