Serving Clients Across Texas
Same-Sex Custody

Dallas Same-Sex Child Custody Lawyers

Protecting Parental Rights for Same-Sex Partners

The understanding of parenthood - maternity and paternity - is well known and accepted throughout the state of Texas as a man and a woman who have conceived, adopted, or otherwise obtained legal parenthood of a child. Parenthood is a little less understood when it comes to homosexual partners or same-sex married couples who wish to become parents. O’Neil Wysocki P.C. has more than two decades of family law experience and can help you and your spouse to understand your rights and become legal parents of a child.

How to Become Parents as a Homosexual Couple

In many cases, one member of a same-sex couple will father or give birth to a child, making them the biological parent. The most common way for the other partner or spouse to become the child's parent is through adoption. He or she could also be the child's parent through presumption if he or she is married to the biological parent at the time of the child's birth.

It is also possible for an individual to be declared the legal father of a child by the court. In order to be certain which options are available for your situation, speak with a Dallas LGBT custody attorney as soon as possible.

Child Custody Issues in a Same-Sex Divorce

Couples might be confused about how custody works in LGBT relationships when they end in divorce. An experienced attorney can help you create a parenting plan that works for both parents if you are both legal parents of the child through adoption. However, separation becomes more complicated if the child is a natural-born son or daughter of one partner and no legal adoption by the other spouse was attempted.

For these cases, it is essential to go to court with evidence that the non-biological parent had care, control, and possession of the child. Courts will determine custody as well as child support based on the well-being of the children. If a child is negatively affected by a separation from their non-biological parent, a judge may still award visitation rights.

What Is a Legal Parent in a Texas Same-Sex Marriage?

Child custody and visitation can be a complex issue for Texas courts to determine when same-sex marriages end. These are couples who cannot give birth to biological children conceived together as a married couple. This complicates the matter when it must be decided how to arrange for custody and visitation later. In a traditional marriage, this issue is typically straightforward as both parents are viewed by the courts as the legal parents through the formality of the child’s birth certificate.

Same-sex couples may have acquired children in a variety of ways. These can include children included in the family unit from previous relationships, biological children born to one of the partners for lesbian spouses, children previously adopted by one of the two partners, and children born by surrogate for one of the partners for gay spouses. A same-sex couple may also legally adopt children while married. In the latter case, both parents would be the legal parents for the child. This would lead to a custody determination similar to those determined for traditional couples where the court looks at various factors to decide what is in the child’s best interests. The overriding guideline in a court decision is always what is best for the child as opposed to the parents.

Need legal assistance with child custody in Dallas or elsewhere in Texas? Turn to O’Neil Wysocki P.C. for reputable and expert help. Call (972) 852-8000 to schedule a consultation.

Legal Parents Can Get Custody

The “legal” parent in the above situations will be the one who will maintain custody of the child. As shown above, a legal parent is a biological or adoptive parent. A “parent” who has acted as such for a child but who is not a “legal” parent in these situations will generally not be allowed custody or visitation through a court. The non-legal parent will only be allowed access to the child at the legal parent’s discretion. This parent is also not required by law to support the child financially through child support orders.

To prevent this problem from occurring, same-sex couples should take precautions ahead of time. If a child is the biological child of one of the partners, the other partner can legally adopt the child to become its “legal” parent. This then gives both parents equal status should a custody issue arise in the wake of a relationship breakup. Even in these cases, if the breakup is a hostile or bitter one, the issue can become contentious.

The most optimum way to handle child custody arrangements for legal parents is to make every attempt to come up with a parenting agreement on their own that puts the interests of the child front and center. This can be done through constructive negotiation between the two parties as opposed to lengthy and expensive courtroom litigation.

Get Legal Guidance from O’Neil Wysocki P.C.

If you are facing a child custody issue as an LGBT individual, it is in your best interests to engage the services of a law firm that is experienced with LGBT family law. You will also want a firm that routinely handles the often-complicated and challenging issue of child custody overall as it is viewed and handled by local courts. At our firm, we exclusively practice Texas family law and have decades of experience in resolving these issues for clients throughout the state.

Reach out to an attorney at our firm by calling (972) 852-8000 today.

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Family Law Representation at O’Neil Wysocki P.C

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