In our most recent blog post, we discussed a very hot topic buzzing all around the country: LGBT family law. Parents who identify as lesbian or gay might face an uphill battle when seeking to share custody of their children with a heterosexual ex-spouse. This issue is liable to surface anywhere — even in states that recognize same-sex marriages, like Pennsylvania.
Although custody rights for LGBT parents were covered in the abstract in the previous post, this issue is very real for one Pennsylvania woman. After several years together, the woman and her partner wanted to have a family together. Eventually, the woman’s partner had two children with the help of a sperm donor.
Like many other couples, the two women eventually decided to split up, but they shared parenting roles while they were together. Now, however, the woman is seeking joint custody of her children. Her case has been hampered by the fact that she isn’t the biological parent of either child and state law refuses to legalize the status of her former relationship.
Immediately after breaking up with her long-time partner, the woman moved closer to her children with the hope that she would be able to share custody. Unfortunately, a judge wouldn’t recognize her role as parent, largely because of the status of Pennsylvania law. All she was left with was visitation time every five weeks with the older of the two children.
Despite the challenges, the woman intends to proceed with her case.
This case shows how real — and complex — child custody issues can be for non-biological parents without a legally recognized marriage. The reality is that the woman probably isn’t alone in her struggle. Handling this kind of case requires knowledge and sensitivity. Like any other custody case, the hope is that this situation is resolved in way that truly benefits the children.
Source: York Dispatch, “Former Yorker embroiled in same-sex custody battle,” Christina Kauffman, May 7, 2014