On June 24th, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was to be legally recognized in all 50 states. As a result, Michigan, where same-sex marriage had formerly been illegal, was legally required to recognize marriages between same-sex couples. However, just because gay marriage is now legally no different from heteronormative marriage, that doesn’t mean gay couples aren’t faced with some very unique challenges during their divorces.
The issue of biological parenting.
When same sex couples have children, whether by adoption, surrogate birth, or sperm donor, they face the challenge of deciding which of the pair will be the biological parent, and which of them will be the parent in name only. That may sound harsh, but it isn’t meant to demean the valuable parenting efforts that non-biological parents in same-sex marriages make. However, from a legal standpoint in Michigan, it accurately presents a dilemma that gay couples deal with.
The creation of a child requires both male and female genetic contributions. Therefore, same sex couples are forced to rely on outside help to have children (either in the form of a surrogate mother for a male couple, or a sperm donor for a female couple.) Unfortunately, this means that if the relationship doesn’t survive, they’re in a unique situation where only one of them is legally considered to be a parent to the child or children.
Which raises issues when it comes to custody.
When a couple gets divorced, and the children they share are genetically tied to both parents, custody becomes an issue that needs to be sorted out. After all, if children need relationships with both their parents, then a custody schedule needs to be worked out that allows both parents time with their kids. But if only one parent is a biological parent (ie: a legal parent), then custody is a moot point because the other parent has no legal right to those children.
When you consider this scenario from the perspective of a gay couple who has children that only one of them is biologically tied to, this can be an issue. When you’ve been a part of your child’s life, from the earliest detected pregnancy, through every aspect of their life since, you think of them as your kid. But if they’re only biologically tied to your spouse, then the court is unlikely to award you custody if your marriage ends. And yes, you could adopt that child which would make you a legal parent, but Michigan allows very discriminatory adoption practices which can make that very hard for gay couples.
Same-sex divorce comes with some very unique complications.
Despite the fact that a federal district court in Michigan ruled recently that a challenge to the state of Michigan’s practice of allowing discrimination against same-sex couples in the public foster care system could move forward, the law hasn’t changed yet. Which means if you’re married to a same sex partner, you have children, and you’re considering divorce in Michigan, you may have a challenging fight ahead of you. Which means you need help from The Kronzek Firm.
Our skilled and experienced family law attorneys are ready and able to help you, no matter what your specific family law needs may be. If you have any questions about your rights as a gay couple, someone in our office is standing by to talk with you, answer your questions, and explain the intricacies of Michigan family law. Call us 24/7 at 866 766 5245 today.