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Child custody issues when domestic partnerships end

Same-sex California couples may be aware of a child custody case that has recently been grabbing attention. When couples are in same-sex marriages or registered domestic partnerships, they often face many challenges similar to those faced by heterosexual couples. The difference, however, is that there are laws in place for almost any eventuality in heterosexual marriages. Although same-sex marriages are accepted in many states, the laws related to child custody and divorce in some states have not been amended to cover same-sex parents.

A couple in a domestic partnership in another state is currently involved in a custody battle related to the two children they produced by using sperm from an Internet sperm bank. They relocated to California and their union was formally recognized as a domestic partnership. The birth of their first child, a girl, took place in California, and the birth certificate carried the names of both partners. While California accepted both partners to be recorded as parents, couples may want to carefully consider the laws of other states if they are thinking about relocating. Most of the problems this couple faces were brought about by their relocation.

They decided to move back to Pennsylvania, and when their little boy was born, only the name of the parent who carried the baby was regarded as a biological parent. Only that parent was recorded on the child's birth certificate. The couple separated when the child was six weeks old, and the parent who did not carry the child moved out. The Pennsylvania family court only granted her visitation rights to the little girl who was registered in California, and no privileges were granted in the case of the little boy. The court found that she has no biological link to the boy.

Same-sex couples may want to record their agreements related to child custody and parenting in a prenuptial, postnuptial or cohabitation agreement. By being proactive and anticipating potential relocations to states where laws are different, the interests of both parents may be protected. Same-sex parents who are married or in domestic partnerships who feel they are unfairly discriminated against may benefit from using the available help to assess the best way to approach the problem in order to secure a positive outcome that will be in the best interest of all.

Source:, "Former Yorker embroiled in same-sex custody battle", Christina Kauffman, May 7, 2014

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
5303 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
Fax: 916-498-0127
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