Same Sex Divorce When Children Are Involved: Determining Child Custody When There's Only One Birth Parent
As the first state to legalize same sex marriage on May 18, 2004, Massachusetts became a forerunner of what was to come in the next 12 years for the United States. Unfortunately, with the right to get married, same sex couples also have the right to get divorced. While prior to same sex marriages being federally recognized, child custody issues could work out badly for the non-birth parent. With same sex marriages now legal throughout the country, same sex couples are both allowed on a birth certificate, giving both parents equal rights to the children born of the marriage, regardless of who is the biological parent.
Establishing Custody of the Children
There are two ways same sex couples can protect their rights as parents. The first is to physically be named on the birth certificate, but this was not allowed federally until the summer of 2015. Prior to that, the second parent would legally adopt the child, giving them the same legal rights to the child as the birth or biological parent. If a child was born before a legally recognized same sex marriage to one of the parties, and this child was never adopted by the second parent, this can be a complex legal issue to work out.
Children Deserve Both Parents Whenever Possible
If a couple was together for fifteen years, had three children together, and then got married as soon as it was legal to do so, the courts have leeway in determining custody. This means that if the biological parent is simply angry at the other party and is fighting for full custody, claiming the other parent isn't the legal parent, they will have a battle on their hands. The second parent should have adopted any children born during the relationship, but if this did not occur, children still deserve to be with both parents whenever possible. If the second parent can establish that they were an active parent throughout the child's life, the court system is going to go with what is in the best interest of the children.
Put Your Children First
It doesn't matter how angry you are at your former spouse, you have to put the needs of the kids first. This means you have to communicate with respect to your ex, and develop a parenting plan that works for all of you. Your children deserve a continuous relationship with both parents, without interruptions from the other parent. The children have the right to maintain the bond they have with both parents, regardless of how they feel about one another.