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Same-sex parents face unique child custody challenges

After the United States Supreme Court extended equal access to marriage to same-sex couples, many people celebrated that decision. However, in Louisiana and other states across the nation, same-sex parents continue to face unique child custody challenges. As courts struggle to keep pace with social convention, many families are left in legal limbo.

An example is found in a recent case that centered on the use of certain terms regarding child custody rights. The parties before the court were legally married, and one woman gave birth to their child. When the relationship ended, the biological mother sought to limit her former spouse's child custody rights. At the center of that argument was existing state law that made use of terms such as "paternity" and "father."

The case went through appeals, and at the level of the state's Supreme Court a determination was made in regard to that language. The court acknowledged that a woman is in fact incapable of embodying the role of "father." However, the court found that the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision was intended to extend the right to marriage to same-sex couples.

That logic was used to by the state's Supreme Court to extend child custody rights. The former couple will go before the lower court to hammer out the details of their child custody arrangement. In the meantime, couples in Louisiana and across the nation continue to face unusual challenges in regard to child custody. Until the courts catch up with changes regarding same-sex marriage, these cases will continue to make headlines.

Source:, "Arizona court: Same-sex spouse has parental rights over ex-wife's biological child", Steve Schmadeke, Sept. 19, 2017

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