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Child Custody in NJ Same-Sex Dissolution Matters

Child Custody in NJ Same-Sex Dissolution Matters

A NJ case currently in the spotlight is the Matter of the Parentage of a Child by T.J.S. and A.L.S. Presently, the law confers automatic parental rights to a woman who carries a child or to a child who has her DNA and there is a presumption of paternity for the father of a child born to his wife during the marriage. Unfortunately, things are not so simple for same-sex couples who are terminating relationships in which there are children. Many same-sex couples have had children during the course of their relationship without, or prior to, entry into a civil union. The rights of either the birth mother or the father who provided the sperm have been litigated in the NJ courts and established. The law relating to the partner who is the non-biological parent is still evolving as same-sex marriage, and the associated rights, become a more prevalent issue in legislation as well as litigation. The law permits the non-biological partner to adopt the child without terminating the rights of the biological parent and there are presumptions when the child is born following the couples’ entry into a civil union. In the case of In re Parentage of Robinson, the Court issued a pre-birth ruling establishing maternity with the non-biological mother as the second parent through application of the artificial insemination statute when both mothers sought this result. A same-sex partner who is not the biological parent but acted as the child’s parent in a family relationship does have parental rights. When the parties have had a child prior to, or without entering into, a civil union and the parent who is the non-biological partner wishes to exercise legal rights to custody and parenting time following dissolution of the relationship, the award of custody and parenting time must ultimately turn on the same standard as applied in a dissolution of marriage, the best interests of the child. For more information on same-sex dissolution, divorce, child custody, alimony/spousal support, child support or other family law issues visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com.

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