Over the last several years, LGBT family law has spent a significant amount of time in the spotlight on a state and national level. Earlier this year, a Texas judge ruled that the state's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. Although this has been viewed as a major step forward for families headed by gay and lesbian couples, a stay on the injunction has kept the existing prohibition in effect.
While same-sex marriage is being approved at a very rapid pace throughout the country, other aspects of LGBT family law continue to lag. Based on the results of a recent study from Drexel University, gay and lesbian parents face significant challenges when seeking custody of their children.
The study looked at parents who were in opposite-sex marriages, but later came out as lesbian or gay before or after getting divorced. When dealing with child custody arrangements, the LGBT parents' sexual orientation has sometimes been viewed as a detrimental factor when determining the best interests of children.
A story from The Guardian points to the case of a Texas father who became locked in a tough child custody fight. The man, who identifies as gay, had a 50-50 custody arrangement in place with his ex-wife, but she requested that his share of time with the children be reduced. In order to preserve the shared custody arrangement, the father had worked especially hard to defend his position.
Of course, preserving the best interests of children should be the goal of any child custody arrangement. However, it's important to determine what factors should actually go into making that kind of determination. Studies have shown that LGBT parents can provide a loving and supportive home for children, just like heterosexual parents. As such, it may be important for parents to consider all angles of a child custody claim and work to make sure that the resulting agreement is truly fair.
Source: The Guardian, "For gay and lesbian parents, equality is a myth when it comes to custody cases," Steven W. Thrasher, April 21, 2014