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Same-sex divorce and parental rights

Same-sex Florida couples who are getting a divorce might run into issues surrounding child custody. Problems may arise if either person is not legally considered the child's legal parent. In Mississippi, the state Supreme Court is making a decision on a case in which a woman is requesting parental rights for the child borne by her ex-wife.

According to the 6-year-old child's biological mother, the other woman had the opportunity to assert her parental rights during the divorce process and did not. The woman's attorney says state laws that did not allow the woman to be included on the birth certificate at the time of the child's birth were unconstitutional. The woman pays child support and has visitation rights, but if the child's biological mother dies, another family could adopt the child without the woman's permission.

A lower court ruled that donors of sperm and eggs have parental rights to a child, but same-sex partners of biological parents do not. The outcome of the state Supreme Court's decision could have repercussions for opposite and same-sex couples because it could mean the couples must terminate parental rights with donors. However, both the Arizona Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court have ruled that same-sex couples should have all the same rights of opposite-sex couples, including the right to the presumption of parentage.

Parents in same-sex relationships who are considering divorce might want to talk to an attorney about what their parental rights are and what might happen during child custody negotiations or decisions by a judge. In addition to making decisions about custody and visitation, parents may need to create a parenting plan that addresses issues such as how extracurricular activities will be handled, who will attend parental conferences and when children might meet parents' new partners.

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