Same Sex Divorce in Florida: What LGBT Parents Should Know About Custody & Visitation
In the 2014 case of Brenner v. Scott, the Florida Supreme Court determined that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Not taking effect until 2015, the decision helped pave the way to marriage equality in Florida. Of course, true marriage equality means that some same sex couples, just like some heterosexual couples, eventually get divorced.
This raises an important question: How do custody and visitation work for same sex couples who get divorced in Florida? In this article, our Tampa same sex marriage lawyers answer the question by providing an overview of unique custody and visitation considerations for LGBT couples.
Parental Rights are Necessary for Custody or Visitation
The most important thing for parents to know about same sex divorce in Florida is that a person must establish legal parenthood to be eligible to seek custody rights or visitation rights. Without parental rights, there is no access to court-mandated custody or visitation.
If the one partner has a child from before the marriage, their same sex partner needs to adopt that child. If they do not do so, then they will not have access to parental rights. If the child was born during the course of the marriage, both parents need to adopt the child or the non-biological parent’s name should be added to the birth certificate.
Parenthood: States Must Treat All Married Couples in a Consistent Manner
In the 2017 case of Pavan v. Smith, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against the State of Arkansas in an important LGBT rights case. Several married lesbian couples brought the complaint after Arkansas refused to put both of their names on the birth certificate. While Arkansas would always include a husband’s name on the birth certificate—even if he was not the biological father—they would not include granting the same privilege to an LGBT mother whose wife gave birth. The court determined this is a violation of the equal protection clause. In Florida, a mother has the right to get her wife added to the child’s birth certificate
With Parental Rights in Place, Custody, Visitation, and Child Support are Similar
In Florida, LGBT couples are entitled to equal protection under the law. While our state long had a discriminatory ban on same-sex adoption in place, that law has been revoked. LGBT parents can adopt children. Similarly, following a divorce, LGBT parents have the same rights and responsibilities as all other parents. If a same sex couple is in a custody of visitation dispute, Florida’s best interests of the child standard applies.
Contact Our Tampa, FL Same Sex Divorce Attorneys for Help
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our Florida same sex divorce lawyers are compassionate, experienced advocates for parents. If you have questions about custody or visitation rights, we are available to help. For more information, please contact us today. Initial consultations are confidential. We represent LGBT parents throughout Hillsborough County, including in Apollo Beach, Brandon, Keystone, Lutz, Riverview, University, and Westchase.