In Michigan
5:43 pm
Fri July 9, 2010

MI Appeals court says unmarried partners don't have custody rights

LANSING, MI –

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that unmarried partners have no custody rights over children they helped raise.

AUDIO: The appeals struck down a ruling from a lower court that might have given unmarried partners - including people in same-sex relationships - the right to seek joint custody. In this case, Renee Harmon was seeking dual custody of the children she raised with her partner of 19 years until they broke up. Tammy Davis is the biological mother of the children. The breakup turned bitter, and Davis cut off Harmon's contact with the children. A Wayne County judge said Harmon has legal standing to seek joint custody.

But the court of appeals disagreed. The court said parental rights are only bestowed through procreation, adoption, or the assumption of parenthood because a couple is married. Michigan does not allow unmarried partners to adopt children. Nor does it allow same-sex marriages.