Ventura, CA Same Sex Marriage Child Custody Lawyer
If you and your spouse are going through a divorce with children, you will need to consider who will have child custody, and what legal effects that will have. In many cases, courts look at parents equally, regardless of their gender. However, many same sex couples (or former couples) come across additional child custody issues. By nature of a same-sex relationship, shared children are biologically related to only one of the parents, or may be adopted. This complicates some custody issues.
If you are going through a divorce or a break up with your same sex spouse or partner, talk to a lawyer about the potential child custody issues. Even when both parties are the child’s biological parents, there are issues that need to be resolved. The Ventura child custody lawyers at Bamieh and De Smeth offer free consultations on new cases. Call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.
Child Custody Lawyer for Same Sex Parents
California courts prefer to give child custody to both parents, whenever possible. Because of this, most parents end a divorce or break-up with “joint custody” of their shared children.
“Child custody” usually has two parts: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the legal power to make decisions in your children’s lives. This usually covers big life decisions in the areas of education, religion, healthcare, and other similar areas. Both parents with legal custody are to be involved in this decision. There is no way that one parent would have more legal custody than another, and both parents should get equal abilities to make these decisions.
Physical custody refers to when you have your children living with you in the same house. When couples begin to live separately, their children may:
- Split their time equally among both parents;
- Live primarily with one parent, but stay with the other some portion of the year; or
- Live only with one parent, and participate in supervised visitation with the other parent.
If one parent has physical custody for more of the year, they are said to have “primary” physical custody. The parent who currently has physical custody (and sometimes the parent with primary physical custody) is known as “the custodial parent.” The other parent is known as the “noncustodial parent,” but that does not imply that they do not have some share of physical custody.
Courts decide which parent gets child custody by looking at several factors. There is no automatic presumption that the child should be with its mother – which would be especially unhelpful in cases where the child has 2 mothers. Instead, courts look to which parent has the time and ability to raise safe, healthy children. Courts prefer to give both parents custody if they both want custody, but may need to make hard decisions about who gets primary custody.
Child Custody Issues for LGBT Parents
Child custody battles can be difficult in any case. However, some specific issues make LGBT child custody cases more complex.
One of the biggest issues is eligibility for child custody. If you are one of the biological parents of your child, you should have had child custody since the child’s birth. If you are not the biological parent, you must have adopted your spouse’s child or had your name placed on the birth certificate to claim child custody. If you never adopted the child or were never declared the child’s legal parent, the law may see you as a stranger to the child.
This problem typically occurs in a couple situations, each of which has its own complications:
The child may be from a previous relationship. If you or your spouse is the biological parent of a child from a previous relationship, the other parent may still have shared custody of the child.
Children can only have 2 legal parents in California, so you may be unable to claim child custody as a step-parent.
If you never adopted your spouse’s biological child, you may be unable to claim custody. In cases of surrogates or sperm/egg donors, the parents may handle child custody casually. Not expecting a later divorce or break-up, parents may never officially adopt their “shared” children. This could mean that the “official” parents are the biological parents – including the donor. Establishing your parental rights may be possible, but could require cooperation from those parties to give-up their custody.
In some cases, the spouse of the biological mother at the time of birth could be added to the birth certificate, avoiding some of these issues.
California Child Custody Lawyers for LGBT Parents
If you are going through a divorce or breakup with your same sex spouse or partner, any shared children could mean difficult custody issues. For a free consultation on your child custody case, contact the Ventura child custody lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 643-5555.