Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1997

Publication Title

Wisconsin Women's Law Journal


mothers, lesbian, child custody, visitation rights, sexual orientation


This essay identifies some of the boundaries and obstacles imposed by the courts on a "visible" lesbian mother striving to maintain a healthy relationship with her children. The term "visible" is used to describe a mother whose lesbian sexuality has been revealed to a court empowered with defining her future contact with her children. The primary focus here is on children who were conceived through a heterosexual relationship, and where a heterosexual parent, grandparent, or other person is challenging the lesbian mother's right to custody of, or visitation with, her own children. Court created boundaries are identified and discussed in general terms in Sections II and III. Section IV examines the issue more closely in the context of a case for which I served as pro bono counsel. Each section supports the conclusion that court-created boundaries remain a formidable challenge for lesbian mothers.