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Same-sex couples can face challenging custody issues

With the growth of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States has also come an increase in same-sex divorce cases. While many aspects of a divorce remain the same regardless of the genders of the parties involved, issues of child custody and support can be more complex when only one party has a biological relationship with the child, especially when official adoption paperwork was not filed for the other parent during their marriage.

In 2017, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a woman's ex-wife had the same right to claim parentage of their child as if she had been her ex-husband. The child was born by the other partner through artificial insemination with an anonymous donor, and both wives signed a joint parenting agreement and executed wills declaring them both to be the child's equal parents. The couple's son was born two years into his mothers' marriage, and the couple divorced when their son was 2 years old.

In the divorce proceedings, the biological mother's ex-wife sought parenting time with the child, arguing that the spouse is the presumed parent of a child born within 10 months of the time of marriage, a law relating to paternity presumption. The Arizona Supreme Court agreed with her argument, noting that various statutes must be assessed to provide equal rights to same-sex couples. Now, the biological mother is appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court where a decision to hear the case could have national repercussions for both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples who make use of reproductive technologies.

Same-sex couples going through divorce can deal with a number of thorny issues, some of which raise unique concerns and others that reflect universal problems of ending a marriage. A family law attorney may advocate for the interests of a partner going through a divorce, including in matters related to parenting time and child support as well as property division and other financial issues.

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