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Transgender man claims parental rights after divorce

Family law has changed radically in Virginia since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that same-sex couples have a Constitutional right to get married. While this ruling ushered in a new era when it comes to matrimonial and divorce law in this state, it may not be the end of the matter, because it may have left issues of parenting rights unresolved.

In nearby Maryland, a transgender man is appealing a lower court decision that denied him child custody and visitation rights over the child he had with his former spouse. Though the man acknowledges that he is neither the child’s biological or adoptive parent, he is arguing that he is entitled to some parental rights because he assumed the duties of parenting the child.

According to the Associated Press, the man and his former partner agreed to raise a child together. The child was conceived and born, though the partner’s involvement -- or gender -- is not clear from the article. Before the child was born, the couple got married, but later divorced.

The man, who is referred to by his former name and by feminine pronouns in court documents, says that Maryland law entitles him to parental rights, despite the fact that he is not the child’s biological or adoptive father.

In August, the state Court of Special Appeals ruled that the man lacks parental standing, noting a lack of laws dealing with same-sex divorce. He is now appealing to the Court of Appeals, Maryland’s top court, the AP reports.

The outcome of this case will not affect Virginia law directly. But this and similar instances of life outpacing the law may require lawmakers or judges to take action eventually.

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