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Child Custody and Support Issues Specific to Same-Sex Partners

With all the changes in recent years to the legal status of same-sex couples, it can be difficult to understand the exact nature of your rights as a couple and, if you have children, your rights as parents. What’s true in one state may not be in another, and what you might assume would be a logical and just approach to your relationship may turn out to be inconsistent with the law.

According to 2010 census data, at least 20 percent of same-sex couples in New York are raising children. Not surprisingly, the state Supreme Court has been called upon to rule on cases that impact same-sex parents. In one, a lesbian biological mother was cleared to sue her ex for child support. In another, a woman was able to sue for custody and visitation, even though the child was the biological offspring of the woman’s ex. As that couple had been united in Vermont and were both considered parents there, New York chose to honor Vermont’s law.

Same-sex couples and child custody

Same-sex parents face a number of issues when they separate, but the question of whether each parent has the legal status to claim the rights and responsibilities associated with being a parent is a frequent obstacle. If both parents are legally recognized, issues related to children can be handled just as they would be in a heterosexual divorce. However, if one parent does not have legal claim to the children, things get more complicated. Particularly if a divorce is not happening amicably, one parent may be shut out of a relationship with his or her children. The most important thing is to always have the children’s best interests in mind.

It is natural to have questions or concerns about how state law applies to you and your children if you are in the process of dissolving your same-sex relationship. Call on an experienced divorce attorney with Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP for legal representation in Long Island, Suffolk County or Nassau County.

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