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Same-sex couples could face child custody issues

Child custody is a difficult topic to tackle. No matter what custody arrangement is reached, your relationship with your child may never be the same.

While cases of joint custody seem to be growing more common, cases in which one parent is given custody over the other still happen fairly often. There are a number of reasons that someone might be deemed an unfit parent, but in some instances, a parent is given no meaningful involvement in a child's life at all. These instances sometimes involve same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriage stands on shaky legal ground.

A case in Colorado is currently dealing with the muddled issue, wherein a lesbian couple split up, and the custody of their son is in the balance. The baby was born through assisted reproduction, but a couple of years after the couple split, the woman who gave birth stopped communicating with her former partner and sought full custody of the child. Unfortunately for the woman who did not give birth, the state never recognized the couple as a married unit, so she is not automatically treated as a married father would be in the same scenario.

Same-sex couples in Texas, where same-sex marriage and civil unions are not recognized, could easily find themselves in a similar situation. In Texas, same-sex couples simply aren't afforded the same legal protections and advantages that married heterosexual couples are. It's something that same-sex couples should consider if they plan on separating and a child is involved.

It's important to know that these sorts of legal differences do not mean same-sex couples have no options when custody issues arise, it just means that such options may be a bit more on the complex, challenging and unclear side. Enlisting the help of legal counsel that has experience in dealing with same-sex family law issues may be of assistance.

Source: KOAA, "Child custody laws unclear with same-sex couples," Eric Ross, July 30, 2014

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