Should same-sex couples in divorce matters involving children have a different legal standard applicable to their cases than that which applies to divorcing heterosexual partners?

Although a family law case in one state that currently commands a strong spotlight nationally might reasonably be deemed as complex in an overall sense, it essentially poses that one relatively simple question.

The case is currently on appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court. A media report discussing it notes the presumption in that state that “a legal spouse of a woman who gives birth to a baby is the parent of that child.”

Notably, Arkansas law — and enactments in many other states — provide for the same outcome.

The plaintiff in the Hawaii litigation argues otherwise. She was a deployed military member during her marriage and when her legal spouse gave birth. As she told the court, she never consented to a pregnancy, nor was she meaningfully involved with the child. For those reasons, she contends, she should have no legal duty to pay support for the child.

Some gay advocacy groups state that a ruling favoring that argument would be injurious to rights for same-sex partners, given that it would create a legal standard that differentiates the LGBT community from so-called “straight” couples.

“Are they going to give them the same kind of recognition that any couple would get or are they going to have a different rule applied to them?” asks a principal at one national advocacy center.

The case is obviously important. We will timely update readers on its outcome.