E.N.O. v. L.M.M.
In a landmark decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a non-biological lesbian mother, who helped raise her son from his birth, is a de facto parent with the right to seek visitation. GLAD represented E.N.O., the non-biological mother, in this case involving a lesbian couple that had shared a committed, monogamous relationship for thirteen years. From the beginning of the relationship, the couple planned to become parents, and did so following donor insemination. The couple’s relationship subsequently deteriorated and although they had agreed to jointly adopt their son, the couple separated before they could complete the legal process to do so. After the relationship terminated, L.M.M. denied E.N.O. any opportunity to visit with the son they had jointly raised.
This is a critical decision because it established that visitation and custody need not only follow a relationship created by biology, marriage or adoption. The SJC recognized the reality that an increasing number of same-sex couples are deciding to have children, and that children of nontraditional families, like other children, form close bonds with both parents.
As a result of the decision in E.N.O., Massachusetts became only the second state whose highest court affirmed the critical relationship between children and their “de facto” parents. Other states have since followed suit.