Child custody matters can be complex and emotionally challenging in any divorce or separation. Same-sex couples in New Jersey may encounter unique custody complications.
Understanding the factors that influence custody for LGBTQ+ families can help you serve your child’s best interests in a divorce.
Legal recognition of parental rights
While state law recognizes the legal rights of same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, complications in some circumstances. For example, one spouse may be the biological parent while the other is not. Protecting both parents’ rights through adoption or other legal measures can help your family avoid custody disputes.
New Jersey follows the concept of “de facto parent,” a person who has acted as a parent but may not have a biological or legal connection to the child. Same-sex couples should consider the legal implications of de facto parent status and how it may affect custody decisions.
State courts generally uphold the best interests of the child. The judge will consider the role each parent plays in the child’s life, including emotional and financial support.
Same-sex couples may face complications if one parent wishes to move out of state with the child. The non-relocating parent can contest the move if it will negatively impact their relationship with the child. The court will evaluate the proposed relocation and its impact on the child’s well-being.
Child support and alimony
Determining child and spousal can be challenging in same-sex divorce cases, especially if one spouse is the primary breadwinner. The court will consider the financial circumstances of both parents. They will also consider the needs of the child and the custody arrangement to make a fair determination.
According to data from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, nearly 20% of same-sex couples in New Jersey have children. To avoid custody disputes, same-sex couples may consider co-parenting agreements. These legal agreements outline custody, visitation and parental responsibilities, providing a clear framework for raising the child.