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Legalities surrounding child custody for gays and lesbians

Michigan residents interested in equality and familiar with the challenges gays and lesbians face may be aware the U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act soon. Family issues that a gay and lesbian couple may face are not different from what a straight couple faces. One issue which has surfaced on numerous occasions and, presents a challenge in the family law court system is the issue of child custody.

A Michigan lesbian couple who decided to start a family was able to have twins by using donated sperm. Shortly after the twins were born, the couple went before a judge where one woman gave up her parental rights but with the help of an adoption agency, the couple adopted the children. They had a birth certificate with both their names on it. However, as it may happen in any relationship, the couple experienced problems and they broke up. One woman took the children and left. The other woman tried to get partial child custody but, the judge on her case ruled that the adoption was invalid. Presently, gay marriage is illegal is Michigan. In another case a lesbian couple who are raising three children together sued the State of Michigan for the right to adopt. Currently, only married couples are allowed to adopt.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on DOMA will offer guidance on the issues gay and lesbian couples face when it comes to adoption and child custody issues. A decision is expected sometime this summer.

Family law issues particularly those involving children are emotional issues for families. For anyone facing child custody issue should contact an experience family law attorney to understand one's options and rights.

Source: CNN Radio, "Michigan mom's gay adoption heartbreak," Tommy Andres, March 12, 2013

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