Nashville Same-Sex Divorce Lawyers Guiding Clients Through Deciding Child Custody

Preparing LGBTQ clients for co-parenting after same-sex divorce or separation

Deciding child custody is one of the most emotionally challenging aspect of divorce. Love is love whether you share a legal or biological link or not. When a couple gives birth through in-vitro fertilization, or a surrogate, both parents love the child and wish the best for the child. The end of the marital relationship means a change in living arrangements, and it requires both parties to learn how to share parenting duties despite no longer being a couple.

At Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC, we help LGBTQ parents meet their goals by proving that their best interests are aligned with their child’s best interests. Our Nashville same-sex family lawyers put their years of experience to work for you right from the start. You can rely on us for practical, sound counsel through every step, and for aggressive representation when needed.

The unique challenges same-sex couples face in deciding child custody

There was a recent case regarding the parental rights of a Tennessee woman named Erica Witt. Erica was married to Sabrina Witt, who gave birth to a child through artificial insemination. The Witts divorced in 2016, and a Knox County judge ruled that he was not legally required to recognize Erica Witt’s parental rights because:

  • The Witts were married out-of-state
  • When they were married, Tennessee did not recognize same-sex marriage
  • The relevant portion of Tennessee law pertaining to artificial insemination refers only to the “husband” of the birth mother

Erica does not share any biological ties with the child, so in the eyes of the court she has no more right to parenting time with the child than an aunt or a grandparent might. Her ex-wife, Sabrina Witt, was also denied child support payments, as Erica has no legal ties to their child. Though the judge eventually reversed his decision, this case illustrates one of the central complications of child custody disputes in same-sex divorce cases. When only one parent is a legal parent of the child – whether by birth or adoption – things can get complicated.

When both of you are legal parents, child custody is no different than it would be for an opposite-sex couple. Both partners may be legal parents of a child that they adopted jointly or the non-biological parent adopted the child through a second-parent or co-parent adoption.

When only one of you is a legal or biological parent, and the other parent has not taken the step to adopt the child, things can get complicated. If you and your soon-to-be-former spouse are unable to come to a compromise that will be in the best interests of the child as you are dissolving your marriage, the court will decide custody and a residential schedule and you are not likely to be satisfied with the outcome.

Mediation can offer creative solutions for same-sex parents

Every couple in Tennessee must undergo mediation before they can officially divorce. For same-sex couples, this process can prove highly beneficial, because it can allow you to work out a parenting plan that accommodates your specific needs. If you and your spouse agree to a parenting plan that includes parenting time and child support payments based on Tennessee’s child support guidelines and calculations, you may be able to avoid the complications that arose in the case of the Witts. A judge may modify or change your agreement based on current laws, your finances, or myriad other reasons, but he or she will see that both of you are taking an active co-parenting role.

How a Nashville same-sex family law attorney can help resolve your child custody dispute

Coming to a mutually satisfying child custody arrangement can be a challenging process, but in the end, it is the child’s best interests that must rule every decision about where the child will live and whether they will be able to have access to the love and nurturing and guidance of both parents. The family law team at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC approaches every child custody dispute with sensitivity and compassion. Smoothing out the differences that each party has about custody can help to lay the groundwork for effective co-parenting in the future. With more than 40 years of combined legal experience, we have dealt with many challenges that seemed insurmountable at first, and we have negotiated workable solutions for everyone involved.

Whether you are pursuing full custody because you believe that the other parent is a danger to the child, or has proven to be negligent or incompetent, or you are pursuing joint custody, we can help you forge a comprehensive parenting plan agreement outside of court, or we are prepared to litigate if the situation comes to an impasse.

Schedule a consultation to learn about your parental rights after divorce

Deciding child custody in same-sex divorce can be a challenging and contentious process, but our compassionate family law team at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC has the experience and understanding to resolve your issues and promote the best interests of your children. Located on Woodland Street in historic Edgefield, we are within sight of the courthouse and we offer our clients free parking. You are encouraged to call us today at 615-391-4200 or complete our contact form to schedule an in-person or video consultation with an experienced Nashville child custody attorney.