Portrait of John K Grubb

Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

5005 Riverway Drive, Suite 450 • Houston, Texas 77056

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

Child Custody Rights Difficult to Win for Gay Parents

In the past, it was often difficult for a gay parent to win favorable court rulings regarding child custody. When a couple would divorce and one of the parents revealed that he or she is gay, child custody would often go to the other parent. This is largely not the case today, as states have increasingly ruled that sexual orientation of a parent is not a factor that impacts a custody determination. The determination is made state-by-state and court-by-court, though, so gay parents cannot always be sure that they will receive a fair hearing.

Last summer, a Houston judge made national headlines for his child custody ruling regarding a gay parent. The man had divorced from his wife 2004; the two had had three children together. He married his male partner in Connecticut in 2010, and then returned to the Dallas area to fight the original child custody ruling. The jury found that his wife should maintain custody of the three children, but that his visitations would continue as normal. The judge in the case tacked on an additional order, which was what made the headlines.

In the absence of any evidence of abuse or danger, the judge ruled that the man could not leave his children alone with any male to whom the children were not related (thereby ruling out the man’s partner). As of last update in the fall, the man is appealing the judge’s condition.

Thus, like many areas of same-sex family law, the rights of gay parents following divorce is unclear in Texas and is subject to change in the coming years. This at least provides gay parents the opportunity to put their best foot forward in arguing for their rights. They also have an opportunity to impact the law for all gay parents and same-sex couples in Texas.

Have you been involved in a child custody dispute similar to this? How did argue your case?

John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C. – Houston divorce attorneys

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