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What child custody and support rights do same-sex parents have?

Child support and custody issues can be difficult for any couple to navigate. However, there may be some unique problems that same-sex couples have to face when they split up. If the couple used a surrogate to bring their child into their lives, then the court may have to make even more complicated decisions related to child custody and support.

Courts always consider first and foremost what’s in the best interest of the child. It’s also their responsibility to protect the interests of all interested parties such as biological, adoptive and surrogate parents when making child custody and support decisions.

Each state has its respective laws regarding how it views same-sex marriage as well as custody and support matters. A judge may have entered a child custody or support order in one state, but then the same-sex couple might have moved to another one that doesn’t agree with the previous court’s ruling. While judges generally uphold and abide by decisions made in another state, they may be unable to do this.

Courts look at various factors when faced with making decisions concerning child support and custody in same-sex couple cases. Judges will generally take into account whether both members of the couple identified the child as their family member or adopted them. Judges may also want to know if a parent regularly attended the child’s doctor appointments.

A lack of formal adoption can be an issue for some parents. Some courts view nonbiological same-sex parents who fail to adopt a child as “nonparents” when it comes to custody and visitation rights. Nonbiological parents may need to ask the biological one for visitation rights if they don’t adopt the child. Courts may try to learn more about a parent’s emotional attachment to the child and how much they contribute financially to raising them when making custody or support decisions.

Sorting out custody and child support is often complicated. It’s even more so if judges don’t have many landmark cases to reference when making decisions. One of the best things you can do if you’re in a same-sex relationship and face a child support and custody dispute is to understand what your rights are and how courts tend to rule on specific issues. An attorney here in Houston can advise you of your rights under Texas law and help you ensure that you protect them in your case.