Any child custody case can be complicated, especially if there is a dispute about the issues. But if the parents are both of the same sex, the case can be even trickier. In many of these cases, only one of the partners is the child’s legal parent. But non-legal parents may have grounds to fight for custody or visitation with the child. Read on to learn more about child custody for same-sex couples in Texas.
A Legal Parent Has a Right to Custody or Visitation
Any legal parent, regardless of sexual orientation, has a right to child custody or visitation. A legal parent may be a biological parent who later entered into a same-sex relationship with another person. In this case, the biological parent has a legal right to custody and visitation.
In some cases, a non-biological parent of a child may become the child’s adoptive parent. This also establishes legal parental rights for the non-biological parent. In other cases, neither partner is biologically related to the child, but both adopt the child. Again, this establishes legal parental rights to custody and visitation for both parents.
Courts Consider the Best Interests of the Child
Regardless of the gender or sexual identity of the parents involved – gay, straight, bisexual, or otherwise – a court deciding child custody must consider the best interest of the child.
In fact, Texas Family Code section 153.002 states the “best interests of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.” The law also continues to state that it is presumed that it is the best interest of the child to have both parents appointed as “joint managing conservators.”
Non-legal Parents May Petition for Custody
In some cases, one partner is neither the biological or legal parent of the child. These cases can be difficult, especially for the non-legal parent who fears losing his relationship with the child.
Those in this situation can file a petition for custody or visitation if they had “actual care, control, and possession” of the child in question for at least six months. This six-month period (continuous or non-continuous) must have ended no more than 90 days before the date that the non-legal parents files the petition.
And further, the non-legal parent must demonstrate that failing to grant him or her custody – if seeking custody – would not be in the child’s best interests and would affect the child’s health or development in some way.
Need help with a child custody case after ending a same-sex relationship?
If you and your partner are separating and you require assistance with child custody matters, meet with an attorney. At the Law Offices of Julie Johnson PLLC in Dallas, our divorce lawyers can help you understand your child custody rights. To speak with a member of our team, dial 214-265-7630 now.