Landmark de facto parenthood decision needs clarification, lawyers say
Alex Allman Interviewed in The Daily Record
Family Law principal Alex Allman was interviewed in The Daily Record regarding his views on a key appellate court decision in 2016. The case established “de facto parent” status for a non-parent in a visitation action involving same-sex couples. “Practitioners need to be aware that the concept of standing has to be considered in a family law case,” Allman said. “Standing is an issue in a family law case where it never was before.”
Maryland’s top court may soon be asked to clarify its landmark ruling this year that an adult intimately connected to a child’s upbringing can be regarded as a “de facto parent” and entitled to visitation and a share of custody so long as the best interests of the child are served, family-law attorneys say.
Left murky by the Court of Appeals’ decision in Conover v. Conover is whether it can be applied to relatives and friends who have developed a strong bond with the child or if the ruling is limited to the facts of the case, which involve the pursuit of visitation and custody by the former same-sex partner of a boy’s biological mother.
The partner, Michael Conover, claims to have been an equal partner in the decision to conceive and help raise Brittany Eckel’s son, Jaxon.
The high court, in recognizing de facto parenthood, stated that a trial court must determine whether the third-party adults had formed a “parent-like relationship” with the child that qualifies them for visitation and custody.
“I would argue that the intent (of Conover) is to deal with the same-sex relationship,” said Allman, of Offit Kurman in Baltimore. “I think I have an argument that Conover does not apply.”
ABOUT ALEX ALLMAN
Mr. Allman focuses his practice in the areas of family law and civil litigation. Mr. Allman has been involved in handling all aspects of domestic or family law cases, including divorce, property distribution, child custody, child support and alimony, as well as a broad range of complex commercial and civil litigation
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