Attorney from Marks Clare & Richards, LLC Wins Landmark Nebraska Supreme Court Decision

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Family law attorney Tyler Block of the Omaha law firm of Marks Clare & Richards, LLC won a landmark decision in the Nebraska Supreme Court. This is a seminal case involving child custody and same-sex parents

They've applied age-old law to this particular situation. I think they've gotten it exactly right.

An attorney from the Omaha law firm of Marks Clare & Richards, Tyler Block, won a landmark decision in Nebraska when the state Supreme Court held that both partners in a same-sex couple had custody and visitation rights to a child who was born to one of the partners, but parented by both.

According to a 15-page ruling released by Supreme Court Judge Lindsey Miller-Lerman, in the case of Latham v. Schwerdtfeger (282 Neb. 121), the district court made an error when it concluded that the doctrine of in loco parentis did not apply to Teri A. Latham. Ms. Latham wished to challenge her loss of visitation with "P.S.", the child her former partner, Susan Rae Schwerdtfeger, gave birth to while the couple was together.

Ms. Latham and Ms. Schwerdtfeger raised P.S. together for six years until their relationship ended. When a dispute arose concerning Ms. Latham's visitation rights, the lower court dismissed her case with prejudice, awarding summary judgment in favor of Ms. Schwerdtfeger. In reversing that decision, the Supreme Court found that Ms. Latham did indeed have legal standing to pursue visitation and custodial rights to P.S.

"They've applied age-old law to this particular situation," attorney Block stated. "I think they've gotten it exactly right."

This is the first Nebraska court decision to make a clear statement regarding the custody and visitation rights of same-sex partners with children. Although Ms. Latham was not allowed under Nebraska law to adopt P.S. when he was born to her then-partner Ms. Schwerdtfeger, the Supreme Court recognized with this decision that she had a form of parental rights known as in loco parentis. Legally, this means she has assumed the obligations of a parent and formed a relationship to the child, even though she is not biologically or through adoption the child's parent. This conclusion was largely based on her role in planning the conception of P.S., providing financial support to Ms. Schwerdtfeger and P.S., and participating in raising P.S. for several years.

About Marks Clare & Richards, LLC

The Omaha law firm of Marks Clare & Richards, LLC offers a broad spectrum of legal services, including the following:

  •     Divorce and family law
  •     Business
  •     Estate and tax planning
  •     Personal injury and medical malpractice
  •     Workers compensation and employment matters
  •     Criminal defense
  •     Appellate practice

They have represented clients in Nebraska since 1951. The firm was recognized by the Nebraska State Bar Association with the first Robert M. Spire Pro Bono Award, which was presented in honor of its attorneys' selfless commitment to the belief in equal access to justice. To discuss your legal matter with an experienced Marks Clare & Richards LLC attorney, call 402-492-9800 or contact us online.

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Howard Epstein
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