It would be great if divorcing LGBTQ couples, only had to face the same issues as divorcing straight couples, but sometimes that’s just not the case. Child custody issues can create yet another set of hoops for you and your partner jump through to provide for your children.
Although political change has allowed same-sex marriage across the nation, this right does not strip away the unique set of state or local laws you may face as an LGBTQ member. Understanding how the legal status of your relationship can create custody barriers can help you and your spouse or co-parent navigate any issues as they arise.
Marry me, marry me not
Your custody rights differ if you are married by law or not. Understanding how the legal recognition of your marriage impacts your parental rights can save you from heartache and headache.
After a legal marriage ceremony, same-sex couples have custody and visitation rights to children they have during the marriage. You can protect these rights by making sure your name is on each of your child’s birth certificate or adoption papers.
Married couples in Ohio can enter a joint adoption agreement if neither parent gave birth to their child. If one parent in your marriage is the biological parent, then the other parent can pursue stepparent adoption. Although, it’s legally labeled “stepparent adoption,” this action gives each parent equal custody over the child.
However, if you would like to have a child with your partner, but are uninterested in marriage, Ohio law presents a unique barrier. State law restricts both opposite-sex and same-sex couples from pursuing joint adoption if they aren’t married.
Maybe you’re past the decision to marry or not, and divorce is the next step in your relationship. If so, then creating a mutual agreement about how your children will split their time with both you and your ex is a necessary conversation.
Your parental status — as a biological parent, adoptive parent, or caretaker not recognized by law — could all affect a judge’s decision in a custody case. Creating more peaceful grounds for litigation can begin with a polite custody conversation done independently or through mediation.