Judge erases lesbian mum’s name from her child’s birth certificate in bitter divorce row
A lesbian mum is fighting back after an Oklahoma judge ordered she be removed from her son’s birth certificate during divorce proceedings.
Kris Williams and Rebekah Wilson, a same-sex couple who got married in 2019, welcomed a son in August that year after using a sperm donor to have their child. But two years later, Williams and Wilson began divorce proceedings.
After the couple divorced, Wilson – who carried their son, identified as “W” in the media – asked a court to remove Williams from the child’s birth certificate, KFOR reported.
When the couple appeared in court in January, judge Lynne McGuire granted the request and ruled that Williams “failed to pursue a legal remedy to establish parental rights”. McGuire found that Williams, who was on W’s birth certificate as the non-gestational parent, should have adopted her own child.
According to the 19th, the couple’s sperm donor, who is now petitioning for custody, would go in William’s place.
Williams said the court’s ruling was devastating as she felt like she was being “erased”, but she said that she will continue to fight back to be recognised as W’s parent.
“My body instantly started shaking,” Williams said. “I mean pure terror, as a queer person, to be erased.”
Williams told the 19th that she’s filed a motion to reconsider her case, which is set to be heard on 1 June.
ACLU attorney Hannah Roberts said the organisation’s Oklahoma branch plans to step in should Williams’ case make it to the appellate court as her case represents a legal grey area many LGBTQ+ parents face.
“The concern is if Kris loses, that’s going to set some pretty bad precedent in the state of Oklahoma, and possibly beyond,” Roberts said. “I think that this is just the first time that there has been such an adverse ruling that is so contrary to equal protection.”
Roberts continued: “It’s gotten the attention because same-sex couples get divorced all the time.”
Williams told the 19th that the former couple’s sperm donor moved to Oklahoma City, where he and Wilson moved in together with W in tow. She hasn’t been able to see W since November as she and Wilson couldn’t agree on how to do visitation during the holidays.
During the divorce proceedings, Wilson accused Williams of attacking her, which Williams denied. A court granted Wilson an emergency victim protective order against Williams in December, but the judge didn’t decide any abuse allegations in her decision to remove Williams from W’s birth certificate.
Williams told the 19th that she “spoke ugly” towards her estranged wife at the end of their relationship.
“We all have our moments, but to say I’m abusive…” Williams said.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that non-biological parents in same-sex relationships can establish custody and visitation rights on equal terms with the biological parent. The court said the decision was “consistent with the best interests of children in similar scenarios”.
But the court stated in the Guzman v Guzman case that the 2019 ruling doesn’t apply to legally married couples, LGBTQ Nation reported.
Williams told KFOR that she wanted people to know that it’s “not just the LGBTQ community that’s vulnerable in this” legal grey area.
“We have other families who can’t have biological children and use donors as a means to have families,” Williams said. “I think it’s horrible that we have to take an extra step in order to solidify our space for us to be legally connected to our children.”