Resolving child custody disputes in divorce is a difficult process for any parent. It has been especially complicated for same-sex couples who have children.
With the recognition of same-sex marriage in Florida, same-sex couples have the same access to Florida courts to resolve child custody disputes as heterosexual couples. As with heterosexual couples, court will base decisions on the best interests of the child. However, complications remain if only one of the partners is the legal parent of the child.
Same-sex couples can acquire children through adoption, a prior heterosexual relationship, or assisted reproduction. In assisted reproduction, only one partner is the biological parent. Before the recognition of same-sex marriages in Florida, same-sex couples had to go through extra steps to obtain parental rights for both parents.
With the recognition of same-sex marriages, same-sex couples can use the same procedures as other married couples to affirm the rights of both parents. However, if the child was born in a different state or before the marriage, only one parent may be the legal parent. In the case of a prior adoption or heterosexual relationship, only one parent may be the legal parent.
If only one spouse is the legal parent, the other partner may have no parental rights at all. For this reason, it's important to discuss your situation with a family law attorney and ensure that you have parental rights while you and your same-sex spouse are married. You can take steps to adopt your spouse's biological child to ensure you can have a continuing relationship with your child in the event of a divorce.
The Law Offices of Tinley Rudd in Sarasota represents same-sex couples in divorce, adoption, and other family law issues.