Same-Sex Couples and Child Custody: Am I a Legal Parent?

Posted on February 5, 2019 by Chris Kirker

In Texas, one of the most common problems that an individual in a same-sex relationship faces when involved in a child custody dispute is proving he or she has “legal parent” status. It is important that you be a “legal parent” because only parents with this status may sue for custody, formally known as conservatorship in Texas. There are three ways that a same-sex parent can prove he or she is a “legal parent” in Texas: (1) give birth to the child; (2) adopt the child; or (3) through the adjudication process.

The simplest way to prove legal parentage is through giving birth to the child. Clearly, in a same-sex relationship that option will not always be realistic. Fortunately, there are other avenues of becoming a legal parent. In Texas, the nonbiological parent may adopt the child without impacting the legal relationship of the other parent, this is known as second-parent adoption. Additionally, an individual may prove he or she is a legal parent by going to court and adjudicating parentage where a judge will decide if there is a parent-child relationship based on the circumstances.

Child custody can be a contentious part of any divorce, and this becomes especially true in same-sex divorces where one parent may not be a “legal parent.” If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community and are going through a child custody dispute with your spouse, you need an attorney that is not only experienced in the area of same-sex family litigation but someone who can also empathize with your situation. Contact Kirker Davis LLP today to schedule a free telephone consultation with one of our highly trained attorneys.

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