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Same-sex couple embroiled in child custody battle

When the Supreme Court acted to legalize same-sex marriage last year, many believed that the move would change the lives of many Florida residents. Unfortunately, same-sex couples still face an uphill battle when seeking divorce and addressing matters of child custody. An example is found in a highly contentious case between two women who are struggling over the care and custody of two children.

When the couple began their relationship, same-sex marriage was not legal in their state of residence. They decided that they wanted to bring a child into their family, and one of the women adopted a six-year-old boy. She was the only party to the adoption due to the difficulties facing same-sex couples who want to adopt. Two years later, the same woman became pregnant through in vitro fertilization, and the couple welcomed their second child into the world.

After their marriage fell apart several years later, the biological and adoptive mother of the kids went on to marry a man. Once same-sex marriage was made legal, her former partner served her with divorce papers, and the court ruled that her marriage to her husband was invalid. The issue of child custody would prove to be more complex.

Because same-sex marriage was still not available in their state of residence, it was difficult for them to expand their family and, eventually, to divorce. Now, questions about the timeline of their marriage and the manner in which their children entered the family could leave one of the women with little to no access to two children whom she strongly feels are hers. For many in Florida, this case is an example of the child custody struggles that will continue to impact same-sex couples for many years to come.

Source: NBC News, "For Some Same-Sex Couples, Divorce Is a Legal Nightmare", Julie Compton, Sept. 7, 2016

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