Each family is unique, and parents–no matter their gender or sexual orientation–deserve competent legal representation when child custody and visitation are on the line. At the Law Offices of Mark G. Rodriguez, P.A., our experienced LGBT family law attorney can help you to understand your legal options regarding child custody and visitation when you and your partner/spouse are separating, and represent you in reaching an arrangement that preserves your and your child’s best interests. Please contact us today for a free consultation.
First, opposite-sex parties may have married and created or adopted a child together, giving both parties legal parental rights. However, if one party identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, the other parent may try to use this against them to withhold child custody or visitation upon separation. Florida courts have been clear, however, that parents’ sexual orientation cannot be used as a factor in determining child custody. That means that a straight person who identifies as being their biological gender has no more rights than a person who is homosexual or transgender.
The second issues that LGBT parents face is a little bit more complicated: when an LGBT couple has a child together, it is not uncommon for them to raise the child together with only one of the parents having legal rights over the child. As such, if the couple separates, the parent without legal rights–but who invested time, money, and love in raising the child as their own–may face serious challenges, and be at an extreme disadvantage, in acquiring custody or visitation.
Protecting a Child’s Best Interests
Florida courts are required to make custody decisions that are within the best interests of the child. However, as stated above, parents who do not have legal custody over a child may be at a disadvantage, with the law providing few protections. For cases in which both parents have legal parentage over a child, the case will be determined in a manner that protects a child’s best interests, based on the abilities of each parent to facilitate a loving relationship between the child and the other parent, the amount of time the child has lived in a stable environment, the mental and physical health of the parents, the reasonable preferences of the child, and more.
Helping You to Create a Parenting Plan
Parents who are separating are encouraged to create a parenting plan – this often ensures that both parents get what they want, and that a child’s need and interests are protected. When a parenting plan agreement cannot be reached, the case will go to court. Again, if one parent is not the legal parent, bringing a case to court could have devastating consequences.
At the Law Offices of Mark G. Rodriguez, P.A., our compassionate LGBT child custody and visitation attorney is here for you. We work hard to protect your right to time with your child, no matter your gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more.