Same sex married couples have equal rights to child custody in the event of a divorce, according to the Arizona Supreme Court.
Tuesday's ruling by the state's highest court overturns an appeals court, and upholds a lower court ruling regarding two women who got divorced. Kimberly McLaughlin fought the custody claim of her ex-spouse, Suzan, on the grounds that Suzan was not the child's biological parent. But the state Supreme Court says now that the U-S Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage legal, that includes all the rights and responsibilities of marriage.
The decision says since state law recognizes the parental rights of a married man who is not the child's biological father, a woman who was married to the biological mother at the time the baby was born also has parental rights. From the Arizona Supreme Court ruling:
• In Obergefell, the United States Supreme Court reiterated that marriage is a fundamental right, protected by the Due Process Clause [of the Constitution]. Describing marriage as a "keystone of our social order," the Court noted that "states have made marriage the basis for an expanding list of governmental rights, benefits, and responsibilities," such as "child custody, support, and visitation rules."
• The marital paternity presumption seeks to ensure that a child has meaningful parenting time and participation from both parents. Extending the marital paternity presumption to same-sex spouses also promotes stronger family units... Children born to same-sex spouses will know that they will have meaningful parenting time with both parents even in the event of a dissolution of marriage.
For these reasons, we extend § 25-814(A)(1) to same-sex spouses such as Suzan. By extending § 25-814(A)(1) to same-sex spouses, we ensure that all children, and not just children born to opposite-sex spouses, have financial and emotional support and strong family units.