If you are a part of a same-sex couple who is currently divorcing or separating, and you have children, custody disputes are likely to arise as a part of that separation. When children are involved, one of the most important issues you face is protecting your children and your rights to continue to be their parent. With same-sex couples the situation can be different depending on the facts of the case such as whether the child was adopted, born into the marriage, and whether biological parents are in the picture.
If you need assistance with a same-sex custody arrangement now or in the future, the experienced attorneys at the Lento Law Firm are here and ready to help you.
Same-Sex Custody Attorney in New Jersey
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent many years fighting passionately for clients to protect their rights as a parent. He is a skillful negotiator and can make efforts to get the results you want diplomatically when possible. When it is not, he is a proven fighter who knows the law and will put it to use for you. You have rights as a parent, and they deserve protection.
If you need assistance with a same-sex custody issue in New Jersey and need comprehensive, customized legal representation, contact the attorneys at Lento Law Firm. Joseph Lento built his practice on the ideals of customer service and justice and he will fight for your rights as a parent. Call (888) 535-3686 today to schedule your consultation and discover what Joseph Lento can do for you.
Same-Sex Custody in New Jersey
Any time children are involved, a divorce or separation becomes much more complex and difficult for the parents involved. Custody issues are always difficult for parents, but same-sex couples can sometimes face unique challenges based on the facts of their individual case. In every custody case, a court will look to certain factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child.
This includes factors such as, but not limited to:
- Parental employment
- Child's interaction with siblings
- Needs of the child
- History of domestic violence
- Cooperativeness of the parents
- Proximity of the parents to one another
- How much time the child spent with parents before separation
- Safety of the child from abuse
- Ages of the children
- Preference of the child (if they are old enough)
These factors will be considered in every case, irrespective of whether the parents are opposite-sex or same-sex couples.
Same-Sex Couples: Unique Issues They Face
Custody issues between biological parents come with certain assumptions and power to seek custody of children. When one or both parents are not the biological parents, as is almost always the case in same-sex couples, the situation can be different depending on the situation.
The law is not different for same-sex couples, it is simply the fact that likely, one parent is not the biological parent of the child. The status of the non-biological parent's legal custody over the child, or lack thereof, greatly impacts the case at hand.
When Both Parents Have Legal Custody
When both parents in the same-sex couple have legal custody of the child or children, the custody proceedings in front of the court will proceed identically (or nearly so) to that of heterosexual couples. Same-sex spouses or partners can each gain legal custody of their children in various ways:
- the biological parent automatically has legal custody of his or her child
- children born into a marriage are subject to both spouse's legal custody
- stepparent adoption
- joint adoption proceedings
If both you and your partner have legal custody of your children, typical legal custody proceedings will take place. Even if you are not the biological parent of the child, your rights are not automatically less than that of the biological parent, and you have rights that deserve to be protected.
When One Parent Lacks Legal Custody
With same-sex couples, it is possible that one parent will not have legal custody over the child, such as in cases like:
- only one parent legally adopted the child
- the parties were never officially married or in a domestic partnership
- the non-biological parent never adopted the partner's biological child (even if conceived during the relationship if unmarried)
Just because you may not have legal custody, does not mean you love that child any less or consider yourself any less a father or mother. If you have been acting as a parent to the child, you can argue you stand in loco parentis.
A person stands in loco parentis if he or she has put him or herself in the position of a lawful parent by assuming the obligations incident to the parental relationship without going through the formality of a legal adoption. This occurs when the parent has established psychological bonds with the child such that the child views that person as a parent.
To determine whether a person qualifies for in loco parentis status, the Court will look at, among other things:
- Relationship of the same-sex partner and child
- Maturity of the same-sex couple
- The length of the relationship between the same-sex couple and whether they live together with the child.
- The intentions of both partners to parent together and what steps, if any, were taken to ensure that joint parenting would take place.
- Any co-parenting agreements or other documents regarding the child that had both partners listed as parents.
If the court determines you qualify for this status, you will be granted rights as if you were a legal custodian at the time of the separation. The court will then make custody determinations with this in mind.
New Jersey Same-Sex Custody Attorney
No matter your situation, as a parent in a same-sex couple you want to protect your children, and your rights as a parent. Your rights deserve protection and highly qualified legal representation.
Joseph D. Lento is well-versed in same-sex custody law. He will inform you of your options in same-sex custody predicaments, protect your rights, and help you understand and navigate the court system. For more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.