The Minnesota Supreme Court issued a decision today granting visitation to a same-sex partner who had not adopted her former partner’s children. Marilyn Johnson and Nancy SooHoo, a Minneapolis couple, broke up after 22 years together. During their long relationship, Johnson adopted two children from China. SooHoo did not formally adopt the children. After the breakup, SooHoo petitioned for full custody and child support. The trial court refused to award custody, but gave the non-adopting former partner the right to visit the children two afternoons a week and alternating weekends and holidays, including Mother’s Day. The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the visitation order, holding that an ex-partner has the right to see the children if the children were bonded with the ex-mate.
Unlike Iowa, Minnesota has a so-called “third-party visitation statute” which permits, under certain conditions, a third-person not legally or biologically related to a child to have visitation. The constitutionality of that statute was at the center of the Minnesota case.