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What you need to know about same-sex divorce with child custody

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2022 | Same-Sex Couples & Custody

Even an amicable divorce can be stressful. Both parties are looking at a dramatic lifestyle change, financially, socially and sometimes even geographically. With child custody in the mix, with the child also facing upheaval, keeping complications to a minimum can be the most challenging part.

Same-sex divorce basics

Same-sex divorce is no different from any other divorce. Ideally, you want to handle it in mediation or arbitration, but prolonged, bitter battles aren’t uncommon.

Mediation and arbitration require good faith effort by both parties and, if successful, are usually faster and less expensive than a court battle. Surprisingly, the lawyers you select can often make the difference between an amenable divorce and a complete breakdown in communication. An aggressive, vindictive lawyer won’t do you any favors in mediation.

Unfortunately, as Ohio had outright banned same-sex marriage before the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision, the state has only made incremental progress in establishing laws pertaining to same-sex divorce when child custody is involved.

Same-sex divorce and child custody

Child custody cases in same-sex divorce are still relatively new to the legal system, so you have a variety of ever-evolving laws that vary from state to state.

In cases where one party is the child’s biological parent, there is little recourse for the non-biological parent to argue for a shared parenting plan if the biological parent won’t allow it. The length and depth of the relationship between the non-biological parent and the child are not deciding factors.

In situations where one parent is the biological parent and the other parent has gone through the step-parent adoption process, the non-biological parent has visitation rights, though the step-parent must prove that visitation is crucial for the child’s wellbeing. That said, except in cases when one parent is deemed to be a danger to the child, courts usually lean toward the concept that both parents should be involved in the child’s life.

In cases where the child was jointly adopted, meaning neither party is the child’s biological parent, the situation is no different than when two biological parents divorce. Both parents have shared parenting rights.

If you’re going through same-sex divorce with one or more children in the equation, and no legal steps were taken to protect both parents in the event of a divorce, you will need competent legal representation to ensure that parenting continuity is maintained.

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