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Same-Sex Marriage

The 'de facto' parent

The rise of non-traditional family arrangements and the legalization of same-sex marriage have put states in a quandary: How to look out for the welfare of a child when "mother" or "father" aren't necessarily tied to offspring by biology, adoption or marriage? Last week, the Maryland Court of Appeals set a new standard recognizing the right of "de facto" parents.

In Conover v. Conover, the state's highest court ruled unanimously that that an adult regarded as a de facto parent can have standing to contest custody or visitation decisions without necessarily demonstrating parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances. Instead, state courts must...