Child Custody Issues Among Same-Sex Parents and Couples

The United States Constitution provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction "equal protection of the laws." However, when it comes to the issue of child custody amongst gay and lesbian parents, the applicability of equality appears to be nothing more than a myth. In fact, recent studies have shown that in child custody disputes, LGBT parents continue to face overwhelming bias in the courts.

For a gay or lesbian parent, coming out at the end of a heterosexual relationship can result in a number of child custody implications up to and including a complete denial of child custody of the parties common children. For same-sex couples who have adopted children, the termination of a relationship can impose difficulties in establishing parentage for both parents. The most common difficulty arises in situations where one of the partners has not been recognized as a legal parent under state law, therefore being denied custody and/or visitation.

Gay and lesbian parents face these issues on a daily basis, despite the findings of previous research which has shown gay and lesbian persons to be just as effective in parenting as heterosexual parents. Furthermore, children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as well-adjusted as their peers raised by heterosexual parents. However, in many states, sexual orientation continues to play a significant role within the courts in determining child custody awards.

An increasing number of states have recently legalized same sex marriage within their jurisdictions. Additionally, a significant number of other states are currently in the process of doing so. As such, child custody issues amongst gay and lesbian person are becoming progressively more common within the courts. As it currently stands, the only potential resolution to eliminating LGBT bias within the courts is through legislative means. State and federal law makers should be encouraged to consider the research and statistics behind gay and lesbian parents when drafting child custody laws. Allowing the research to influence this area of the law will further promote the best interest of the child when making custody determinations.

Child custody matters are some of the most important in family court matters. At Lasiter & Jackson, we are aware of the importance of child custody matters and the lifelong impact it has on your children. Contact us to thoroughly discuss the merits of your case for child custody. We will aggressively advocate to achieve what you determine is in the best interests of your children.

Source: Drexel Now, "In Child Custody Disputes, LGBT Parents Face Bias in the Courts, New Drexel Review Finds" No author given, Apr. 15, 2014

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