Child support and custody issues can be difficult issues for any former couple to sort out, but same-sex couples often have some unique worries. If you’re starting a same-sex divorce and custody of your child may be an issue, there are a few important things you need to know.
What is a family law judge’s primary responsibility?
The court’s primary obligation is to consider what’s in the child’s best interest. Their secondary responsibility is to look out for surrogate, adoptive and biological parents’ rights. Judges must weigh all of these factors when making decisions about child custody and support.
What’s unique about same-sex custody rights?
There aren’t many landmark same-sex custody cases available for judges to review to help them render decisions in child support and custody matters. Because of the changes in the laws over time and the way that same-sex parental rights differed from state-to-state, the exact legal relationship between the parents and children involved can vary greatly.
Here are some of the questions that may need to be asked when a court makes custody decisions in same-sex couples’ cases:
- Are both parents listed on the child’s birth certificate?
- Did the non-biological parent formally adopt the child?
- Has the non-biological established a significant relationship with the child?
- Is the non-biological parent the child’s primary caretaker?
- Is there another reason, like addiction or mental illness, that the biological parent is less suited to be the child’s primary custodian?
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer parents often need to develop an early strategy to protect their relationship with their children. An attorney who has experience navigating these areas of the law can guide you.