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Samantha Hayes ReportingThe case of two women who raised the same child is now before the Utah Supreme Court because the mother of the child wants to end her former girlfriend's visitation rights. The decision could have huge implications beyond the courtroom. So, what are the rights for people who care for children who aren't biologically or legally theirs?
It is a special bond between a parent and a child. But in untraditional families, where the parents are not married, that parent-child relationship gets legally complicated.
Keri Lynn Jones: "We proved that I stood in place as a parent to Gracie, before she was born and after she was born.”
During their relationship, Keri Lynn Jones and Cheryl Barlow decided to raise a child and Barlow gave birth. But the relationship ended and now Barlow does not want Jones to see the child.
Cheryl Barlow, Biological Mother: "Appearances are deceiving. Ms. Jones had an affair during the relationship, and as much as our appearance of being a happy couple was a falsehood, so was this claim that she was bonded to my child."
Gay couples cannot adopt in Utah. Therefore, Jones has no legal right to the child and attorney Laura Gray points out, the child has no right to Jones.
Laura Gray, Attorney: “Including the right to inherit from the non-legal parent, the right to remain with that parent if something happens to the legal, often mother, typically these are female couples."
Jones was granted visitation by a district court judge in December on the basis she had a parental relationship with the little girl. Now her case is before the Utah Supreme Court and the issue is becoming a political battle over gay rights and parental rights.
Laura Gray:”There are so many children being born into non-traditional families in Utah..hundreds now."
Utah lawmakers are watching this one closely.
Barlow was a former gay activist but says she has rejected that lifestyle and is seeking a heterosexual relationship.