Custody Agreements in Same-Sex Marriages

Gay and lesbian couples face many of the same issues as straight couples when deciding the terms of their divorce or breakup. Dividing property and assets, after all, is stressful for everyone.

Custody arrangements for children, though, are often more complicated for LGBT couples, because the law can be terribly unfair to same-sex parents.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the legal complication results from fact that in many states the law deems only one individual in the same-sex couple to be the legal parent.  The courts usually consider the biological mom or dad the legal parent of the child or children. The same is often true when couples adopt: only one parent may be deemed the adoptive parent because some adoption agencies prohibit same-sex couples from adopting together but do allow a LGBT person to adopt on his or her own.  This can leave non-legal parents worried about their rights to children they have loved and raised alongside their former partner.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, some same-sex couples enter into a co-parenting agreement—something similar to a prenuptial agreement– that spells out each person’s role as an equal parent, even when only one person is considered the legal parent.  Such agreements typically define each parent’s rights in the event of a custody dispute, including how the parents will approach decisions like medical care, financial support, legal inheritance, and custody schedules.

It may seem a bit foreboding or unloving to enter into a custody arrangement before the bundle of joy has arrived, but such agreements can provide a non-legal parent with stronger rights in the event a relationship falls apart.

Custody fights involving same-sex couples are similar to those of heterosexual couples. In either circumstance the parties have to decide:

  • With whom will the children live?
  • Who will make major decisions like healthcare and schooling?
  • How much of the week/month/year will a child live with one or the other parent?
  • How will each parent provide for the child’s medical, financial and educational needs?
  • In what religion, if any, do you plan the child to be raised?
  • How will the parents resolve disputes?
  • What if a parent moves?

Divorce and custody arrangements can be difficult but there are always options. The knowledgeable family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have decades of experience handling all types of family law matters, and are here to help you.

Contact one of the DiPietro family law attorneys today to schedule a consultation with a caring professional at (703) 370 – 5555, or visit us online.

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