When the Unites States Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling on same sex marriage in 2015, the move was heralded as a victory for same sex couples. After years of fighting for the right to marry, same sex couples were granted the same rights that heterosexual couples have enjoyed for generations.
Even so, same sex couples continue to face unique legal challenges across the nation. Many of those challenges come in the form of child custody cases, in which their parental rights are called into question based on the biological construction of their families.
Cases continue to work their way through the legal system, putting these issues before courts in all states and at all levels. Many people who are concerned about the rights of same sex parents have been watching the progression of one case in the state of Arizona.
That matter centered on a same sex couple who married in 2008, prior to moving to Arizona. They decided to add to their family, and one of the women gave birth to a child in 2011. Both women cared for the boy until the marriage ended two years later.
At that time, the woman who gave birth to the child tried to limit the rights of her former partner to continue a relationship with the boy. That prompted a child custody case.
Throughout that case, a focus was placed on state law that made liberal use of terms such as “father” and “paternity.” An argument was made that because one of the women had no biological connection to the child, she could not be considered a parent.
The case made its way to the state’s Supreme Court. At that point, the court found that it was not possible for a woman to meet the definition of either “father” or “paternity.” However, the decision went on to say that the United States Supreme Court decision was intended to extend the same rights to same sex couples that are granted to heterosexual couples.
Those rights include parental rights, according to the Court. Therefore, same sex spouses should be granted the same rights during a child custody matter, regardless of whether or not they share a biological connection to their children.
This ruling is being heralded as a victory for same sex parents across the nation. As more and more cases go before courts in all states, the rights of same sex parents will become more deeply ingrained in our legal system.
For now, same sex parents who are faced with a child custody challenge must take an aggressive legal stance in the matter to ensure a favorable outcome. Until the day comes when all parents enter a custody case under the presumption that their children are best served by maintaining a close connection with both parents, these cases will continue to make headlines, and require a skilled and carefully considered approach. Finding a family law attorney Nassau County to assist can make the process far easier to navigate.