The rights of a gay partner to participate in, and more importantly, have court ordered rights to, parenting her former partner’s child will be set for trial in the 302nd Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas. After the Texas Supreme Court declined to hear the biological parent’s appeal challenging the partner’s right to sue for access to the child, the Dallas Court of Appeals returned the case to the trial court. [See Dallas Court of Appeals cause number 05-08-00568-CV, In re M.K.S.-V., 301 S.W.3d 460 (Tex. App. — Dallas 2009, pet. denied), opinion attached.]
Kristie Vowels and Tracy Scourfield were together for more than four years and decided to have a child together, conceived by Scourfield through artificial insemination. A year after the birth of the child, they broke up and Scourfield moved out of Vowels’ home along with the child. Vowels continued to have contact with the child by agreement on a schedule similar to that of divorced heterosexual parents. Following a disagreement between Scourfield and Vowels, Scourfield denied Vowels access to the child, resulting in Vowels filing suit for court-ordered access to the child.
A three-judge panel of the Dallas Court of Appeal issued a controversial ruling in December 2009 that Vowels had the right to seek access to the child based on a law that provides a person with the right to sue for such rights after she has had actual care, control and possession of the child for at least 90-days prior to filing the suit. Vowels’ access by agreement with Scourfield was deemed to be sufficient to meet the requirements of the statute.
Scourfield sought to have the Texas Supreme Court overturn the decision of the Dallas Court of Appeals. The Texas Supreme Court declined to hear the case on May 28, 2010. Scourfield had a certain time-frame following the Texas Supreme Court’s denial to request reconsideration of that ruling. Because she did not, the Texas Supreme Court sent the case back to the Dallas Court of Appeals which, in turn, returned the case to the Dallas district court for trial.