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Family Law Blog

Determining Parentage During a Same-Sex Divorce

Friday, April 10, 2020

Establishing parentage is important to make sure that same-sex parents maintain parental rights and are allowed to participate in parental responsibility allocation during the divorce process. However, there are still legal uncertainties in many locations throughout the U.S. when it comes to establishing parentage for same-sex couples. In California, the same rules applied to traditional paternity suits and divorces also apply to same-sex divorce and parentage.

Keeping the Divorce Out of Court

Same-sex couples going through the divorce process can benefit from staying out of court when resolving child-related issues. Couples can do so by discussing the matters with each other, in therapy, or with the help of a custody mediator who may be mandatory regardless of whether the divorce is in or out of court.

If the divorce goes to court, the rules pertaining to parenting rights for traditional couples will also apply to same-sex parents.

If Both Spouses Are the Legal Parents

Many divorces will involve two spouses who are both the legal parents of the child, which can be the case if both parents jointly adopt a child. The spouse of the child's biological mother is also considered the legal parent if:

  • The child was born prior to the legal marriage between the mother and father
  • Birth occurred 300 days of terminating the marriage
  • Non-biological parent adopted the child through a second-parent or stepparent adoption or developed a parent-child relationship via another parentage action.

If both parties in a male same-sex couple wish to establish dual parentage, either the non-biological parent will need to adopt the child, or if both parties are nonbiological parents, they must jointly adopt the child.

If One Spouse Is a Legal Parent

If only one individual is the child's legal parent, the other parent won't benefit from any parenting rights under any circumstances. Without establishing parentage, it may be difficult to secure visitation rights, although the legal parent will be able to determine if the second parent should be allowed to be involved in the child's life, as long as it is in the child's best interests.

Conclusion

For help with the same-sex divorce process and to learn more about establishing parentage, contact us today to see how Jamra & Jamra can assist you.