There are over half a million same-sex couples living in the United States. Through options available such as adoption and surrogacy, 25 percent of these same-sex couples are raising children. Like other couples and parents, same-sex relationships can end. However, when children are involved in same-sex relationships, child custody issues can be more complicated.
State lawmakers and courts are tackling the special legal issues that arise when gay and lesbian parents fight for parental rights like child support, custody and visitation with mixed results. While the law is catching up, you may be able to protect your parental rights as gay and lesbian parents through proactive measures.
Since same-sex marriage is now legal across the country, getting married will protect your rights as a non-biological parent in terms of securing an ongoing relationship with your child. It will also establish your financial obligation to his or her continued care. If you do not plan to marry, you may also consider co-adopting the child or obtaining a court order declaring legal parentage.
If you and your same-sex partner break-up before you have secured your rights as a legal parent, you may be able to show that you are the defacto parent by proving that you accepted parental responsibilities, held yourself out as the child’s parent with the permission of the other parent and lived with the child after birth or adoption and have established a strong emotional bond. This may sway the court to rule in favor of continuing the relationship to serve the child’s best interests.
If you are considering same-sex divorce, contact the Law Offices of Ronald L. Bell for help. Our firm proudly serves and protects the legal rights of same-sex couples and their families throughout the Lake County and northern Illinois area. Attorney Ronald L. Bell can help you with LGBT family law issues such as divorce, child custody, support and visitation, property division, spousal maintenance and more. Contact our offices today 847-495-6000.