LGBT parents face child custody challenges

On behalf of Lake Toback Attorneys

Families in Illinois with one or two gay or lesbian parents may find it difficult to accept that some U.S. states continue to show a bias against them in family law courts deciding on who will be awarded custody. However, a new study from researchers at Drexel University found that LGBT parents are routinely considered less effective because some courts do not take into consideration research showing that such parents are just as good at raising well-adjusted children as are their traditionally oriented counterparts.

The research referred to by the study authors has not been incorporated into the way that some states treat gay or lesbian individuals in the child custody process. The Drexel researchers showed in their review that many studies have concluded that LGBT and straight parents are equally effective, but in states where same-sex marriage is not legal or recognized, courts still improperly consider sexual orientation a factor in determining the best interests of a child.

Such unequal treatment poses a dilemma for splitting parents who have self-identified as gay or lesbian at the end of a heterosexual marriage. In addition, an LGBT parent may not be recognized as a legal parent by states that don’t recognize same-sex unions, jeopardizing custody or visitation rights. The researchers recommend that state legislatures become familiar with the multiple studies’ findings so that they can change their states’ laws to reflect them in family courtrooms.

LGBT individuals and couples may find resistance to child custody or even to their adopting children. The legal issues may be difficult to untangle from societal prejudice, and an advocate in court may prove a valuable ally.

Source: Drexel Now, “In Child Custody Disputes, LGBT Parents Face Bias in the Courts, New Drexel Review Finds “, April 14, 2014

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LGBT parents face child custody challenges