Same-sex couples face discrimination in child custody matters

In the last decade, gay and lesbian individuals have gained many civil rights. Among these is the right to marry in some states, including Maryland. Like many heterosexual couples, gay couples may also choose to become parents or may already have children from previous heterosexual relationships. When faced with a divorce, gay parents often struggle to move beyond societal norms and the personal biases of judges when it comes to matters related to child custody and visitation rights.

Despite recent progress in the U.S. gay rights movement, gay couples continue to struggle to maintain or regain custody of either biological or adopted children. A recent research conducted by university researchers shows that U.S. courts continue to largely favor heterosexual parents over gay parents when making child custody decisions.

In most cases, when a heterosexual couple decides to divorce, the courts favor awarding joint custody. However, in cases where a man and woman divorce and one spouse subsequently becomes involved in a gay or lesbian relationship; researchers found the courts greatly favor the heterosexual spouse. In all child custody matters, the best interests of a child must be taken into consideration. However researchers were surprised by how many courts also take a parent's sexual orientation into consideration when making child custody and visitation decisions.

Gay parents who are experiencing problems related to child custody with a heterosexual ex, have rights and would be wise to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney who handles same-sex divorce and child custody matters.

Source: Medical Daily, "LGBT Parents' Custody Battles Are Rife With Heterosexual Bias In The Courts," Justin Caba, April 15, 2014