Many people in the LGBT community face an issue when it comes to divorce that their peers in heterosexual relationships generally do not: fear of losing their children due to a lack of genetic and legal ties.
In fact, this lack of official recognition can keep some partners in unhappy marriages for years. They are afraid if they pursue divorce and the other parent asserts full rights, the courts will decide that the nonlegal parent has no place in the child’s life.
How it happens
LGBT families develop and flourish in all shapes and sizes. For example, there is adoption, which has its own subset of shapes and sizes. A couple may adopt a child together, or one partner, while he or she was single, adopted the child. Couples who want to cover all of their legal bases should ensure that both parents have official ties to the children.
Unfortunately, a parent who planned for the child from the beginning and who has helped raise the child for years but has yet to officially adopt the child is at risk of possibly losing the child in a divorce. Even in divorces that seem like they could be amicable, a parent can be blindsided if the other parent decides to take advantage of the fact that the co-parent has no legal ties to the child.
The law is progressing
Family law has progressed a long way. Judges have more leeway to consider what the best interests of the children are. Those who are the parent of a child in every way that counts, just not legally and biologically, can draw from statements from friends and family members and use family photos and letters from the children to show that they deserve to keep a prominent place in their children’s lives. A lawyer can help them do that.
One thing they should aim to do is adopt the children even if the divorce progresses well. Adoption ensures they always have legal standing and will give them much peace of mind. Counseling can help them and their co-parents agree on the best approach.