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Jennifer McCaskill
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Legal parentage remains a concern in same-sex couple divorces

Becoming a parent is a dream for many New Jersey residents. Same-sex couples deserve to make this dream a reality just as traditional couples do. However, when it comes to same-sex divorces, the question of legal parentage remains substantially different from those traditional marriages.

Gaining the right to marry may have addressed many of the issues facing same-sex couples, but the law still needs to catch up regarding some issues. One of the most important ones is child custody. Some New Jersey residents live and act as parents for years without opposition, but problems could arise when the relationship ends. Not being a biological parent complicates the child custody process.

In many same-sex marriages, only one party is the biological parent, and this does not readily present a problem. After all, the nonbiological parent handles the daily tasks associated with parenting in tandem with the biological parent. The child knows no one else as a parent. While the relationship is good, the other party may not consider the fact that he or she has no legal right to the child.

Until the law catches up to the issues presented in same-sex divorces when it comes to children, nonbiological parents ought to take steps to protect their relationships with the children. Some states are beginning to make the forms filled out by new parents gender neutral, which helps nonbiological same-sex parents secure their parental rights, but not all states are taking this step just yet. For this reason, going through the adoption process may be the way to do so.

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