Rubano v. DiCenzo
The Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that a lesbian co-parent could bring a claim in Family Court to resolve issues of visitation rights with the child she had raised with her former partner, the biological parent of their son. This ruling establishes the right of a de facto parent to pursue custody and visitation claims in Rhode Island. M.R. and her partner C.D. lived together for 8 years and had a son in 1991. When the couple split up, C.D. limited, and then ended, all visitation between the son and M.R.
In a 3-2 decision, the Court ruled that the Family Courts of Rhode Island have the power to hear claims raised by de facto parents, and to determine the interests of children born to unmarried couples. GLAD’s amici curiae brief, authored along with Boston attorney David Hobbie, and Providence attorney Donna Nesselbush, was joined by the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Jewish Family Services, Children’s Friend and Service, Rhode Island State Council of Churches, Rhode Island Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, Ocean State Action, Rhode Island Affiliate of the ACLU, Youth Pride, Inc., Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and YWCA of Northern Rhode Island.