Child custody disputes between divorcing heterosexual couples can be complicated enough, but things can become even more difficult during child custody battles between same-sex couples. If you're in a situation where you're separating from your same-sex partner and want to retain custody of your children, there are some things you'll need to know.
Every Case is Different
First of all, because laws regarding same-sex partnerships and unions are different all over the country, you should be prepared to hear a lot of different advice from a lot of different people. Ultimately, the state in which you live and the circumstances surrounding your legal guardianship will play a major role in how your child custody dispute will turn out.
For instance, if you live in a state where you were legally able to marry or join a recognized civil union with your partner, there's a good chance that your custody dispute will be treated just as any heterosexual custody dispute would be. Specifically, the courts would take the following into consideration when determining the outcome:
- whether or not you're a biological parent
- which parent provides the most stable living environment for the child
- whether or not both partners are legal parents (in adoption situations)
Unfortunately, if you live in a state that doesn't recognize your marriage or union—and if you aren't a biological parent—you will probably have a hard time gaining custody of the child. Your best bet would be to reach a mutual visitation or custody agreement with your ex-partner rather than leaving the decision up to the courts. The same goes in situations where the child was adopted but, for whatever reason, you weren't on the adoption paperwork. For especially unique circumstances, understand that your case may even be the one to set a precedent in same-sex child custody law.
You'll Benefit from a Lawyer
Regardless of your specific situation, you'll want to make sure that you've got a dedicated and experienced lawyer from a firm like Harold Salant Strassfield & Spielberg on your side through every step of the process. Make sure that the lawyer you choose has experience when it comes to same-sex child custody battles, as this can make all the difference in your overall success with the case. A lawyer who has been successful with same-sex child custody disputes in the past will know what it takes to give you the upper hand. Along the way, he or she will also be able to help you through the complicated legal process.