Today, in a decision rendered by the Massachusetts Family Court, our client, “Monica”, a non-biological/non-adoptive LGBT parent, has been declared the legal parent of her son! Monica was also granted temporary custody of her son until she can secure his return from the Dominican Republic and seek a final adjudication of her custodial rights.
In January 2018, we partnered with the law firm of Latham & Watkins to establish Monica’s rights. Monica and her ex first met when they were teens in the Dominican Republic. Years later they started a romantic relationship and, after having moved to New York, lived together in the Bronx and decided to have a child together. However, after they broke up, the ex arranged for the child to live with an aunt in Massachusetts, and Monica has not been allowed any contact with him. LeGaL and Latham filed a case on Monica’s behalf in the Family Court in Salem, Massachusetts, and, not long afterward, she learned that her son had been taken to the Dominican Republic by her ex’s family.
The Massachusetts Court relied on favorable new precedent allowing non-biological/non-adoptive parents to have rights to their children and challenging the notion that a biological or adoptive connection should be solely determinative of legal parentage: this decision adds to the growing body of law which recognizes the parents’ intent, the child-rearing responsibilities undertaken by them, and the fundamental bonds of affection which develop between any parent and child.
While we celebrate Monica’s win, her fight is not over. Her son remains in the Dominican Republic, and we will fight to return the child to the United States and reunite him with his mother.
For this work, and the fight ahead, LeGaL is grateful to the team at Latham & Watkins for their dedication to vulnerable members of the LGBT community with intersectional identities which make barriers to justice far more severe. The willingness of Latham to take on a case in another jurisdiction and with the potential need for international litigation demonstrates the firm’s extraordinary commitment to protecting the rights of LGBT people across underrepresented communities. For Monica, we are pleased to be able to share in celebrating the Court’s recognition today.