Lesbian mum loses custody of son to sperm donor in bitter court case

Oklahoma lesbian woman Kris Williams is seen talking to the news while wearing a grey shirt after she was removed from her son's birth certificate

An Oklahoma judge has sided with a sperm donor over a lesbian mum in a custody case, citing that the state’s laws do not prioritise same-sex marriage.

Judge Lynne McGuire ruled that Kris Williams was to be removed from her son’s birth certificate after her ex-partner argued she was not the mother after the couple split.

Kris Williams and Rebekah Wilson married in the summer of 2019, and the couple had a son via artificial insemination shortly after.

While Wilson carried the child, Williams was there for the birth and was listed on the birth certificate as the boy’s mother.

When the lesbian couple filed for divorce in 2022, Wilson petitioned the court to remove Williams’ name from the child’s birth certificate. The court subsequently ruled in January last year that Williams “failed to pursue a legal remedy to establish parental rights” and should have adopted the child. 

But on 1 June (2022), county district judge Lynne McGuire backtracked on the original ruling and declared that Williams would remain on her son’s birth certificate, her lawyer confirmed to the 19th. 

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According to Wiliams, her and her now ex-partner planned to have their son and successfully found a sperm donor – Harlan Vaughn – on a paternity website.

After what has been described as a “bitter” break-up, Wilson moved in with donor Vaughn – taking the child with her.

Last year, Judge McGuire reinstated Williams on the child’s birth certificate and her name still remains on it.

However, the issue of Williams’ parental rights were not decided until Monday (13 February), where judge McGuire ruled that Oklahoma’s parentage act predated marriage equality – and said it did not apply to Williams and Wilson’s situation.

‘I’m disappointed to be an Oklahoman’

“[The act] does not take into account same-sex marriage, and there is no presumption that the wife of the mother is automatically presumed the parent of a child born during the marriage,” McGuire wrote, according to The 19th.

Legal experts have warned that the case could have significant implications for marriage equality around the US.

Williams’ attorney, Robyn Hopkins, said they will seek an appeal decision.

“Today, I’m disappointed to be an Oklahoman,” Hopkins said.

“I feel like this is our community’s cry for help and we need all hands on deck. I’m comparing it to a natural disaster.”

In a statement provided to The 19th, Vaughn and Wilson wrote: “We remain focused exclusively on our child’s protection and well-being. We are grateful for the court’s validation.”