When you are part of a same-sex couple and the two of you share a child together, you may face unique child custody issues that differ from those encountered by your heterosexual peers. No matter how much your situation mirrors that of a “traditional family,” you should expect to encounter certain challenges with regard to child custody if you and your spouse split up.
If your ex is your child’s biological parent but you are not, you may want to consider a second-parent adoption to cement your rights and help ensure you are able to maintain a strong relationship with your child.
As part of a same-sex couple, there is no “marital presumption of parentage.” This means there are no rules outlining your rights to the child when you are not married to the biological parent and have no biological ties yourself. When no presumption of parentage exists, you have no grounds to stand on if you wish to fight for visitation, custody or child support.
A second-parent adoption gives you a chance, as a nonbiological parent, to establish legal ties to your child without affecting those of his or her biological parent. Once you complete a second-parent adoption, you share the same legal rights over your child as his or her biological parent.
The Equitable Caregiver Act
A recent Georgia law change gives you another opportunity to solidify ties with your nonbiological child. The state’s Equitable Care Act allows you and other non-biological caregivers to fight for custody, provided you prove that you have played a large role in a child’s caregiving and upbringing.
You also must show that you and your child have a strong bond and that you intend to continue to accept all parental responsibilities when it comes to your son or daughter. The Equitable Caregiver Act gives you a chance to maintain legal rights over your child even if you never went through a formal adoption process.