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Child custody rights not guaranteed for same-sex couples

Now that the Supreme Court has settled the issue of same-sex marriage, many couples have settled into a happy state of married life. For some, adding to their family was a priority, and artificial insemination is a popular option to meet that goal. Unfortunately, same-sex parents in Colorado and elsewhere still face legal challenges when it comes to securing a parental link with their children. That has resulted in child custody issues and other legal matters that seek to extend the same parental rights to same-sex parents that are given to heterosexual couples.

Most states allow same-sex parents to be listed on a child's birth certificate, either voluntarily or as a result of legal challenges. However, there are two states that continue to refuse to do so, stating that only biological parents can be listed on a child's birth certificate unless an adoption takes place. This approach, however, is contradicted by the practice of allowing the husband of a woman who has conceived through artificial insemination to be listed as the resulting child's father on the birth certificate.

Multiple couples are challenging those practices, and insist that there are multiple issues that can arise based on an inability to be listed as a parent on their child's birth certificate. For one, parents who have earned military benefits may not be able to pass those benefits along to their kids if they are not legally a parent. In addition, if a same-sex parent who was listed on a child's birth certificate were to pass away, the parent who was not listed could face serious child custody problems if a member of the biological mother's family was to try and seek custody of the child.

As the current cases play out, parents in Colorado and elsewhere will watch to see how the issue is handled by the courts. It may one day be the case that a Supreme Court ruling legitimizes same-sex parenthood in the same way that same-sex marriage was handled. For now, however, there is little certainty in the matter, leaving parents across the nation concerned over how their own child custody rights might play out in a court of law.

Source: USA TODAY, "Gay couples fight to be included on birth certificates", Rebecca Beitsch, June 12, 2017

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Brandon Ceglian's practice focus is family law, landlord-tenant law / real estate, civil litigation, criminal / DUI, and collections. View Attorney Profile

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