The Koblin Family Law Center

Study: Heterosexual bias in child custody rulings needs fixing

There have been some big strides made in the United States in the area of same sex relationships. As of today, according to the website ProCon.org, California, 15 other states and the District of Columbia have all legalized same-sex marriage. Illinois is due to become the 17th state this summer.

While a lot of movement has been seen in social acceptance of gay marriage, though, it hasn't quite been matched in family law, according to researchers out of Pennsylvania. They say their deep review of current law and the courts shows that there is still a strong bias toward heterosexual parents when it comes to child custody issues

The problem with that, the researchers note, is that there is no social science research to indicate that heterosexual parents are any better than homosexual parents. They say all the work that has been done so far shows that the well-being of children is dependent on the quality of an adult's parenting skills, not the parent's sexual orientation. Still, gay parents often see that orientation used in determining child custody disputes.

The researchers out of Drexel University say the time is ripe for state legislatures to be more proactive about changing the laws related to child custody determinations to remove the discriminatory bias against gay and lesbian parents.

They also say that anyone in the legal system who may have influence over matters that affect entire families should seek to be better informed about parenting research so that they can stave off any personal bias in their practices.

The lead author on the study says that in the face of the change that is sweeping society more child custody situations in which one parent is in a same-sex relationship after a divorce are going to arise. He says laws need to change for the protection of rights and children's best interests.

Source: Medical Daily, "LGBT Parents' Custody Battles Are Rife With Heterosexual Bias In The Courts," Justin Caba, April 15, 2014

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