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LGBT families face unique child custody issues

Colorado has come a long way since the passage of Amendment 2 in 1992. While national newspapers and television networks called Colorado, “the Hate State,” that year, the entire ordeal seems like a distant and terrible nightmare. Nowadays, the Centennial State has an openly gay governor, a burgeoning population of free-thinking citizens and hundreds of LGBT groups. 

If you are part of an LGBT family, you likely appreciate Colorado’s evolution on gay issues. Still, like any other family, LGBT couples routinely go through divorces and separations. If you have children, you want what is best for them. Nonetheless, there are some unique child custody issues that more commonly affect LGBT spouses. 

When two individuals have legal parentage 

As you know, with LGBT families, often one parent has legal parentage. This may not be the case, though, if you have a valid marriage or domestic partnership. Further, if you legally adopted your partner’s children, you have legal parentage in Colorado. Where both parents have legal parentage, child custody works in much the same way as it does for straight couples. 

When one individual has legal parentage 

Commonly, with LGBT families, only one individual has legal parentage of the child or children. If you are not the child’s legal parent, you may have a difficult time asserting your rights. Still, if you have acted as a parent, you may be able to use the state’s parentage laws to obtain legal parentage. Before you get to that point, though, you may want to think about protecting your family by getting married, drafting a parenting plan or negotiating a visitation schedule. 

In 2019, gays have more legally recognized rights than ever before. You cannot, though, assume progress equals protection. By understanding the unique child custody and other issues that LGBT families commonly face, you can likely better strategize for protecting both your family and your parental rights.

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Lakewood, CO 80228

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