Same-sex couples in Minnesota enjoy the rights to marry and to partake in the legal benefits bestowed on heterosexual couples by the state and federal governments. However, just as some heterosexual marriages end in divorce, so too do some legal unions between individuals of the same sex. While any divorce can be plagued with challenges, certain issues related to same-sex divorces can be particularly difficult to sort out.
When it comes to children and custody after a same-sex divorce, the partners to a divorcing couple could find themselves with varying rights regarding the children they helped raise. For example, if one parent was a biological parent to the couple's child and the other member of the marriage neither shares a biological link with the child nor adopted the child, then the individual who does not share biological information with the youth may find himself without any rights to be a legal parent to the child.
Being married to a child's biological parent does not make a person a parent to his or her spouse's child. Effectively, such a person is considered a step-parent and while step-parents may hold very important roles in the lives of their partners' children they are not legal decision-makers for the youths.
However, the courts of Minnesota place a great deal of weight on the best interests of the children whose custody matters come before them. Third parties and de facto custodians may, in some circumstances, be able to secure custody or visitation time with children who are not their biological offspring or children through adoption. While every third party or de facto petition for custody is different, readers are encouraged to speak with their family law attorneys about their options.
Same-sex partners and heterosexual partners can face problems when they wish to end their marriages and establish custody for their children. Different factors can influence how a court will decide different custody cases and readers of this blog should not rely on the information contained herein as legal advice.