Bucks County Same Sex Couples Attorney
While same-sex marriage is now legal in all fifty states, including Pennsylvania, legal problems continue to plague these couples especially during a divorce. The issues can be further compounded when a same-sex couple decides to divorce and there are children involved. The experienced Bucks County same sex couples attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand recognize the complexity of these legal issues and are prepared to answer all your questions regarding same-sex child custody in your case. To learn more, call or contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
Establishing Legal Parentage
Same-sex couples typically have a child in one of two ways: through adoption or through the use of assisted reproduction technology with third party sperm, egg donor, or surrogate. When both spouses in a same-sex relationship are the legal parents of a child, such as with an adoption, determining child custody in a divorce is fairly straightforward and operates the same as a child custody determination with a heterosexual couple.
However, if only one spouse is the legal parent of a child, such as with assisted reproduction, significant issues can arise in a child custody case for the other parent. That spouse may not have any legal custody rights to the child after a divorce. Thankfully, there are steps that same-sex couples can take while married to establish legal rights to custody.
The most straightforward way to protect child custody rights is for both parents to adopt a child during the marriage. This may be done through a traditional adoption, second parent adoption, or stepparent adoption depending on the unique circumstances of your family. A petition is filed with the court to begin adoption proceedings, and once complete the non-biological parent becomes the legal parent of the child. This entitles that parent to custody rights if the couple ever decides to divorce.
Establishing in loco parentis
Another way to assert child custody rights after a same-sex couple files for divorce is to establish in loco parentis of the child. This means that the spouse stands in the place of a biological parent and should therefore be entitled to custody rights. Putting both names of a same-sex couple on the birth certificate is compelling evidence for in loco parentis in addition to establishing a parenting agreement with the biological parent while the marriage is ongoing.
A same-sex spouse asserting their rights using this method will need to collect as much evidence as possible about how active they were in the child’s life in order to prove their standing as a parent. This may include records of taking the child to medical and dental appointments, parent/teacher conferences, extracurricular activities, naming the child as beneficiary on life insurance and other policies, and any additional evidence that the spouse held this child out as their own during the marriage.
Want to Learn More?
If you would like to speak with a knowledgeable Bucks County family law attorney about your rights to child custody as part of a same-sex couple filing for divorce, call the office or contact us today to schedule a consultation at Kardos, Rickles & Hand now.