Although same-sex married couples have received more rights due to the Supreme Court’s decision in the summer of 2013 that found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, same-sex partners in Texas and other states that do not recognize gay marriage continue to witness inequitable treatment in the child custody arena. Same-sex parents still struggle to achieve the same legal rights as heterosexual parents.
A new study from Drexel University has found that court decisions that give preferential treatment to heterosexual parents over gay or lesbian parents do not consider research based on the parenting of the latter group of parents. Research has shown that gay and lesbian parents provide just as effective parenting as heterosexuals. Furthermore, research shows that children raised by these parents are just as well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.
Despite this research, many courts give preferential treatment to heterosexual parents. Additionally, some parents may be denied any rights to children that they have raised because they are not biologically related to the children. The authors of the study ask lawmakers to consider this research when making decisions pertaining to child custody, especially as more states legalize gay marriage. They ask psychologists who are evaluating child custody decisions not to bring any personal biases with them when making these decisions. They also believe that social research should help inform judges in making these decisions as well as legislators in constructing new laws pertaining to child custody.
Same-sex partners who are going through a custody battle may decide to consult with a family law attorney in order to learn more about their rights. Through this course of action, they may be able to establish their case that a child should stay in their custody because it is in the best interest of the child.
Source: DrexelNow, “In Child Custody Disputes, LGBT Parents Face Bias in the Courts, New Drexel Review Finds“, April 14, 2014