A landmark ruling has been made by a US judge in a case around parental rights for a lesbian former couple.

The judge in Virginia Beach ruled that the estrange wife of a woman who gave birth to their child has equal parental rights.

Karen and Lauren Poole got legally married in Maryland in 2013, and had their child in 2014.

They conceived using artificial insemination, and Karen gave birth to the baby.

They used the sperm of a mutual friend to conceive. He left the US, and has no legal claim as a parent to the child.

After the couple, who are still married, decided to separate, the judge on Friday ruled that both women have parental rights.

Virginia Beach Circuit Court judge Steven Frucci made the ruling on Friday.

Speaking after the announcement, Lauren said: “It felt amazing … to finally hear what I already knew and what I already felt.”

She broke down in tears when the judge issued his opinion, but still may need to wait to have joint custody officially.

Karen had taken out a protective order against Lauren, which is to expire in a month.

Judge Frucci said he intended to allow Lauren visitation rights, but that he would wait until the end of this month in order to attorney for the baby time to weigh in.

The couple’s attorneys said they thought the ruling, the first of its kind in Virginia, could set a precedent.