Same-sex marriage has been legal in Texas since 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to legalized same-sex marriage in all states. As a result of this major legal development, same-sex couples in Texas regularly enter into marriage, which also means they can face the same legal issues - including divorce - as opposite-sex married couples might.
In addition, same-sex couples or individuals might face unique parenting issues in family court that opposite-sex couples might not face. If you are in a same-sex marriage and have legal concerns involving divorce, child-related matters, speak with a Fort Worth LGBTQ family law attorney as soon as possible.
At the law office of Kyle Whitaker, we stand up for the rights of all families in the Fort Worth area and throughout Tarrant County, so do not hesitate to speak with a member of our team about a possible case today.
Establishing Paternity or Parentage
When a mother gives birth to a child in Texas, and she is married to the father of the child, both spouses’ names will be on the child’s birth certificate, and each spouse automatically has legal parental rights and responsibilities regarding the child. Same-sex parents are in a more complicated situation, as the same-sex spouse of the mother giving birth will not automatically receive legal parental rights. You should seek legal guidance to ensure that both parents have rights to the child.
There are more complex situations, such as those involving surrogate mothers, assisted reproduction, unmarried parents, or adoptions, and Texas follows the Uniform Parentage Act, which defines and sets out procedures for establishing a child's legal parentage. If you have questions about legally establishing paternity or parentage in Texas, contact our LGBTQ family lawyer today.
LGBTQ Adoption in Texas
Adopting a child in the United States is one of the most rewarding yet tedious processes, and Texas is no exception to this. The host of adoption rules and regulations governing adoption in all states, including Texas, are so cumbersome and complex, it is not recommended to go through the process without the help of an experienced lawyer.
In Texas, LGBTQ individuals have the same rights to adopt a child or access fertility assistance as anyone else. In the past, each same-sex spouse had to go through the adoption process individually, which took double to time, stress, money, and other resources. Now, however, legally married same-sex couples should be able to adopt together like any other married couple.
Unmarried same-sex couples might still have to go through the two-step process unless, in some cases, they can show they are in a common-law marriage under Texas law. If your same-sex partner has a biological child, you might have to go through the adoption process to ensure you have rights.
If you have any questions about adoption by same-sex couples or LGBTQ individuals in Texas, do not wait to discuss the matter with our LGBTQ family law firm.
LGBTQ Custody in Texas
If you and your spouse have separated, are contemplating divorce, or otherwise are committed to ending your relationship, and you have a child, then you will face and deal with child custody issues like any parent must in Texas.
There are no special rules for LGBTQ parents when it comes to child custody. All married couples going through separation or divorce must follow the same rules and procedures, which in the case of child custody, is to determine how they will divide:
- Physical time living with and caring for the child
- Decision-making authority for important decisions regarding the child’s life
Many parents are able to work together and agree to a conservatorship arrangement out of court. This helps to keep control over how you will co-parent in your own hands. You should get an experienced LGBTQ lawyer to assist you in these discussions to help increase the chances that negotiations will be successful. A family lawyer can represent you in mediation proceedings if needed to help negotiations along.
If you cannot reach an agreement regarding conservatorship/custody, the case will need to proceed before a judge. Once the case is in family court, a judge will decide all issues related to child custody, considering many factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child. These factors include:
- The child’s wishes if they are old enough
- Current and future emotional, psychological, and physical needs of the child
- The ability and willingness of either parent to provide a stable home
- The child’s ability to adjust to new schools and communities
- Any history of abuse or neglect by a parent
- Any other factors relevant to the specific situation at hand
If your custody case goes to court, you want the right LGBTQ family attorney protecting your parental rights.
As in determining child custody issues, there are no special rules for LGBTQ couples when seeking a divorce. You must follow all ordinary rules of divorce as provided under Texas law. These include:
- Establishing residency in the state
- Having proper grounds for divorce
- If you have a child, resolving conservatorship and child support matters
- Determining how you will divide your community property and assets
- Deciding whether one spouse will receive spousal maintenance
- Addressing any prenuptial agreements that might exist
The divorce process can be stressful and complex for anyone, and you want an LGBTQ divorce attorney who will protect your rights and future interests. Even if you are only considering divorce, we can help you learn what you might expect and how to prepare if you decide to move forward with a divorce case.
Talk to a Fort Worth LGBTQ Family Lawyer Today
To ensure your rights are protected when seeking a divorce, child custody, adoption, or in any matter affecting your LGBTQ spousal relationship or family, it is best to find the right family lawyer who understands your situation and how the family court process works. We are ready to help clients in all types of situations at the law firm of Kyle Whitaker. Please contact us today for a consultation.