Montgomery County Same-Sex Child Custody Attorney
Attorney Representing LGBTQ Individuals in Pennsylvania Custody Disputes
A custody dispute can be a difficult proceeding no matter what your sexual identity is, but LGBTQ individuals may face unique challenges. Whether a same-sex couple is going through a contentious divorce or there is a question of parentage, they may need to educate the court or judge on their identities in order to reach a favorable outcome. As the legal landscape changes, Pennsylvania same-sex parents may not be sure what their rights are in the courtroom, especially when it comes to child custody cases involving adoption, stepparent rights, and artificial insemination.
How ever your child came into your life, preserving that relationship is obviously important to you during divorce proceedings. If you are an LGBTQ individual who is worried about issues regarding parentage or how to establish your rights in a custody case, please contact the Law Offices of Sheryl Rentz, P.C. at (610) 645-0100. Our empathetic and knowledgeable Pennsylvania same-sex child custody attorney will work to put your mind at ease while defending your parental rights during negotiations and within the courtroom.
Issues Faced by LGBTQ Parents
The courts will ultimately argue on behalf of the best interests of your child and attempt to assign a custody ruling that benefits them, no matter what your sexual orientation is. The arguments around child custody are relatively the same for same-sex parents as they are for heterosexual parents, but the unique processes by which same-sex couples become parents may raise questions about parentage.
Adoption: Same-sex adoption is no different than heterosexual adoption in terms of the adoption process. Once you have completed the necessary adoption proceedings, both parents will have their names placed on the child’s birth certificate to establish legal parentage. It is important to ensure that you are legally named the child’s parent in the adoption process to ensure that you have a legal right to custody in the case of a divorce.
Stepparents: Sometimes an LGBTQ individual will have children from a previous marriage. If the child’s other biological parent is not a major part of their life, then the non-biological parent may claim stepparent rights for visitation and custody. When the other biological parent has no legal rights to custody, has been denied custody in previous legal procedures, or has passed away, the non-biological parent may also adopt the child and establish a legal basis for custody.
Artificial insemination: Whether through a sperm donor or donor mother, artificial insemination is another common method for same-sex couples to have a child. In concept, the donor should lose all parental rights once the child is born and the parentage should pass to the same-sex couple, however, this is not always the case. Multiple states have debated the validity of the parental rights of non-biological parents and, in some cases, have assigned sole custody to the biological parent. Ensuring that both parents, whether biological or not, are named the child’s legal parents is important in establishing custody after artificial insemination.
Biological children of transgender parents: In some cases, same-sex couples may both be biological parents, if one member of the relationship is transgender and is fertile. In this situation, both parents would have parental rights if they are married or, if they are unwed, they have both signed the birth certificate.
Whether you are a child’s biological or non-biological, it is important that you establish a clear case for parental rights in order for the courts to award custody. The road to establishing parentage for LGBTQ individuals has not been easy in the past, with court battles still being fought in state supreme courts today. Speaking to a skilled child custody attorney can help you get a footing for your rights in Pennsylvania.
Legal Rights of Transgender Parents
While Pennsylvania courts should not consider the gender identity of an individual during a custody dispute, one parent may use the other’s status as a transgender individual against them. This is more common for individuals who came out as transgender during or after a divorce and the other parent wants to reopen a child custody case to change the status from joint to sole custody. They may argue that a parent’s transgender identity may cause psychological damage or disruption in their home life based on a lack of understanding about trans identities.
However, if you have established a legal right to parentage through adoption, stepparent rights, or are a biological parent, you do have a right to a fair child custody case that only focuses on your relationship with your child. If you fear discrimination based on your gender identity during a custody dispute, do not hesitate to contact an LGBTQ family law attorney. We can thoroughly review and discredit the other side’s arguments while defending your rights as a parent in a Pennsylvania courtroom.
Contacting an LGBTQ Family Law Firm
Child custody disputes, much like divorce, can be a difficult process filled with many fears and anxieties. When you step into the Law Offices of Sheryl Rentz, P.C., our empathetic legal team will work towards calming your fears and building a strong legal strategy to defend your rights as a parent. Sheryl Rentz has more than 25 years of experience providing sound legal advice for Montgomery County residents in family law matters. She will keep you updated every step of the way to ensure you are always informed of the status of your case. Call us at (610) 645-0100 to ensure receive fair treatment within the courtroom.
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