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Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

4550 Post Oak Place, Suite 201 • Houston, Texas 77027-3139

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

Law Unclear for Second Parents in Same-Sex Relationships

Yesterday we talked about the rights of gay parents in obtaining child custody following a divorce. That situation occurs when a man and a woman lawfully marry, have children together, later divorce, and then one of the spouses reveals that he or she is gay. We consider a different situation for today’s post – that where a same-sex couple has and raises a child together, but then the couple splits up. What rights does the non-biological parent have? This is often referred to as the second parent situation. The second parent is a non-legal and non-biological parent, but may have helped raised a child for years.

Unfortunately, it is often an uphill battle for second parents in same-sex couples to fight to win child custody rights. That is not to say that is impossible – a recent case from a Dallas court recognized the rights of a second parent to sue for child custody. The woman eventually dropped her case, though, after four years of trying to obtain physical and legal custody, but the recognition that she has standing, as a non-legal and non-biological parent, to sue for custody is a big step forward.

An effective, but by no means certain, method of protecting a second parent’s rights is through adoption of the child, a topic we discussed on Wednesday. Texas courts have not specifically ruled this out, and a second parent has formally adopted a child in Texas. The second parent would ideally formally adopt the child while the two parents were still a couple. If the second parent does not and the couple splits, he or she needs to act quickly, as Texas does not provide much time for the second parent to ask for child custody or visitation rights.

Have you raised a child in a same-sex relationship but then later broke up? How did you ensure your rights to continue seeing your child?

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

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