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Same-Sex Parenting Laws

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What Should I do if my Same Sex Partner and I Separate?

If you and your partner are raising a child together, you should do everything you can to protect your relationship with the child if you and your partner separate.  The court will give child custody or visitation rights based upon the best interests of the child.

If My Partner and I Separate, Is The Non-Custody Ex-Partner Obligated To Pay Child Support?

This will partly be determined on a state by state basis. In states which recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions as the same as heterosexual marriages, divorce proceedings will be the same, including child support.

In states which do not recognize joint parental adoption by homosexuals or do not grant the same rights to domestic partnerships or civil unions as heterosexual marriages, this would likely be a contested subject. If only one partner was legally a parent to the child, then it is unlikely that the other partner would have to pay child support.

What Happens If My Partner and I Adopt a Child From One State Then Move To Another State?

This would depend upon the adoption laws of each state. If the child’s home state and the state you and your partner move to both allow joint gay and lesbian adoption, then you need only apply for adoption in your home state. If however, one state doesn’t allow adoption, then the adoption process becomes much more difficult. 

One way around this would be to have one partner become an adoptive parent in the child’s home state, then have the other partner form a step-parent adoption in the other state.

What Should I Do if I Can't Adopt?

If adoption isn't a possibility for you, you should enter into a written "parenting agreement" with your partner. This agreement should include these kinds of details:

  • you both consider yourselves the parents of the child, with all the duties and responsibilities that comes with this
  • you both intend to let the parental relationship, with joint responsibilities and regular visits, with the child continue if you and your partner should separate

Can I Take a Parenting Agreement to Court?

Courts are ambivalent when it comes to let same-sex partners continuing a parenting relationship with a non-biological child, depending on local state attitudes and laws. It is often better to work out an agreement on your own or hire a mediator that can negotiate a settlement. Courts that have given visitation and parenting rights to non-biological same-sex partners have focused on any written parenting agreement and the level of involvement in the child's life.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Because of the uncertainty for a gay or lesbian parent who, in some states, is not allowed to adopt, it would be wise to consult with a family lawyer to ensure your parental rights if your relationship ends. Speaking with the proper lawyer and getting all the legal information that is available, will help you understand your rights and options.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 06-29-2018 01:07 AM PDT

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