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Child custody left in the air in Texas same-sex divorce case

Same-sex couples in Texas seem to be fighting an uphill battle to get married. That battle is also extending into their rights to get a divorce. This can make it very difficult for the couples who want to end their union, especially if there are children involved in the relationship. One same-sex couple in Texas is going back and forth in the court system with their petition to divorce.

The two women were married four years ago in Washington, D.C. In February 2013, one of the women had a baby conceived through artificial insemination. In July of last year, the couple separated. In February, one of the women filed for a divorce. The divorce petition included a petition seeking joint custody of the child by the woman who didn't give birth to the child. The birth mother countered that the other woman wasn't an adoptive parent or birth parent, so the petition should be thrown out. Her petition was denied.

The county judge ruled that the couple was legally married. She said that the both women are the child's parents and that it was unconstitutional for the marriage ban to stop their due process and equal protection rights. An appeals court, however, didn't agree with her. The appeals court granted a stay on the ruling to allow the Texas Attorney General to consider the county judge's findings. The couple and the child now have to wait on the next stop in this process to find out if the divorce will be allowed, as well as how the child custody will be decided.

The woman who isn't the child's birth mother hasn't seen the child in eight months. Her attorney said that her client was celebrating the county judge's ruling because it meant she could have a visitation hearing.

This case shows how complex child custody and divorce cases are for some couples. Those who are going through a divorce should make sure that they fully understand the laws and keep the child's best interests at heart when petitioning the court for child custody.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Lesbian Couple's Texas Divorce Put in Limbo" David Lee, Apr. 28, 2014

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