As a divorcing couple, you may be facing many of the same issues when it comes to child custody as different-sex couples. These issues are best solved outside court; you can save time, money and stress if you and your spouse can come to agreements on child custody, visitation and support.
Make Your Own Agreement
If you can put aside your differences and create a workable parenting agreement, consider the following aspects to include in the agreement.
- Where and with whom the child primarily resides. The courts will refer to this as "physical" custody and can be either one parent's responsibility or shared 50/50.
- The visitation for the non-custodial parent, which should include holidays, vacations and the weekly/daily/weekend schedule.
- Child support for the parent who holds primary custody.
Same Sex Marriage and Divorce
As of June 26, 2015, same sex marriage is now legal in all states, and divorces and child custody cases will now also become heard in all courts as well. There should not be any differences in the laws surrounding these legal orders and contracts. If you are a legal resident and are legally married, and if you have met the residency requirements to divorce in that state, you should be able to divorce and have child custody cases heard just as different-sex couples do.
Legal Standing for Custody
Whether or not the court considers a parent to have legal standing to be awarded custody depends on how the child came into your relationship; chiefly in one of these two ways:
1. Both of you are the legal parents of the child. This normally occurs when you both have legally and together adopted the child, or the child was born into your union naturally. In this instance, traditional guidelines for child custody applies, depending on the laws of your state.
2. Only one of you is the legal parent. This usually happens when one parent brought the child into the relationship, after having the child in a previous relationship. If the other parent never legally adopted that child, they have no legal standing for custody. Additionally, in this situation, the non-legal parent cannot be compelled to pay child support.
This situation can be quite contentious, since the non-legal parent has sometimes formed deep bonds with the child. As a side note, this situation is apt to occur more frequently in upcoming years. Parents of children in same-sex relationships have been prevented from adopting children in those states that did not allow same-sex marriage, thus preventing many same-sex couples from following through and making the parenting relationship legal.
If you are in a same-sex relationship, have children and are contemplating a divorce, seek competent legal help from a family lawyer like Lois Iannone Attorney at Law, as soon as possible. Child custody issues are thorny enough under normal circumstances, and are far more so with same-sex couples.