Same-sex couples in Massachusetts technically have the same rights as heterosexual couples do. However, there are a few gray areas when it comes to same-sex divorces that can make people feel nervous about filing.
Heterosexual divorces and custody proceedings have decades of precedent, but same-sex divorce is a relatively new area of family law in Massachusetts. It is common for a same-sex spouse considering divorce to worry intensely about possible custody outcomes.
What happens in the custody proceedings of a same-sex divorce in Massachusetts?
State courts recognize the value of same-sex parents
Language used in laws about custody and divorce can sometimes lead to confusion in matters involving same-sex partners. In some states, for example, the law is unclear about whether a non-biological and non-adoptive same-sex spouse has any sort of custody rights. Thankfully, Massachusetts already has court precedents on this important topic that makes it clear where the state stands.
The Massachusetts family courts have previously affirmed the rights of even non-married same-sex partners to request shared custody when their relationship with the other parent ends. Even if you did not bear your children, contribute genetic material or formally adopt them, you can still ask for custody rights when you divorce.
How will a judge split custody in a same-sex divorce?
The exact division of parenting time and other parental responsibilities will depend on your family circumstances. However, the judge will focus primarily on what is best for the children. Showing how you have been a positive influence and constant source of support for the children throughout your relationship can make it clear that you having custody rights would be beneficial for the children.
You and your ex may be able to negotiate a custody arrangement outside of court when you understand how the courts will approach the matter. Even if you have to litigate, when you know your rights, it is easier to assert them.
Learning about how Massachusetts judges handle custody decisions can help you prepare for your upcoming divorce.