Child custody matters can be very complex, and they can look very different from family to family. The needs of each parent can often be focused on, even though the ultimate goal is to fulfill the best interests of the child. The dynamics of the family going through the divorce process often plays a major role, and it can be a pivotal factor in court when a judge is determining the best custody arrangement for a divorcing family in Missouri and other states.
Groundbreaking legal rulings have been made for same-sex couples throughout the nation. And after the legalization of same-sex marriages, a Tennessee court has made another first ruling of its kind, which could have a significant impact on same-sex marriage throughout the nation.
According to recent reports, the Fourth Circuit Court granted a woman the rights of a husband in a same-sex divorce. Achieving such a decision was not easy or quick. While a Tennessee court originally approved the designation of father to the spouse in the couple that did not conceive their child through artificial insemination, this was later reversed. This occurred when a bill was signed into law that ordered court to give the "natural meaning" to words such as mother and father.
However, it was later argued that the court should view this custody issue through the correct frame of reference. That means preserving the constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry and divorce. Thus, the terms father and mother should be read in a neutral matter. By stripping away any gender from the labels mother and father, the court ruled that she could obtain the legal status of the child's father. This allowed her to have parental rights following the divorce, giving her legal access and the ability to have an enforceable custody order.
Child custody disputes can look very different from couple to couple. Whether a divorcing couple is a same-sex marriage or not, it is important to understand the rights of each parents and what steps can be taken to obtain a fair and equitable custody arrangement.
Source: USA Today, "Lesbian granted rights of 'husband' in same-sex divorce," Jamie Satterfield, May 10, 2017