VB judge names both spouses parents in same-sex couple’s court battle

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A Virginia Beach Circuit Court judge has ruled both women in a same-sex marriage the legal parents of a child who was born before they separated. The biological mother had argued against that.

Judge Steve Frucci said Karen Poole, the biological mother, and Lauren Poole decided to bring the child into a valid marriage, and it was clear from the beginning that Lauren was intended to be a legal parent.

The women married in Maryland in 2013. Karen became pregnant through a sperm donor and gave birth in the summer of 2014. The couple separated less than a year later. Lauren’s team argued in court documents that she was a parent, who attended the birth and provided care and insurance for the child.

Karen’s attorneys said it was up to Karen to choose a second parent, and that the women could have done a step-parent adoption. Judge Frucci wrote in his ruling, “The conscientiousness of a divorce does not mean that Plaintiff is no longer a parent because the Defendant, as the gestational parent, no longer wishes her to be one.”

“I never thought we’d be here, but we are…It was crazy, actually. It felt amazing, to finally hear what I already knew and what I already felt…It was great,” Lauren said after the ruling.

“We’re seeking joint legal and shared physical custody, so shared parenting arrangement, so that the child can have the complete and full benefit of two engaged and involved parents,” said Lauren’s attorney Barbara Fuller, who called it a landmark ruling.

According to court paperwork, a protective order was filed against Lauren that expires next month. It allows her to see the child if both women agree. The sperm donor in this case waived his rights and acknowledged the women as parents, court documents show.

Karen Poole’s attorney, Kathleen Edge, said after the ruling: “While we respect the ruling of the court, our client is very disappointed and we are going to review what our next steps will be. These are issues that our legislature needs to address.”

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