LGBTQ Child Custody Attorneys in Pittsburgh

Legal Services for Parents in Allegheny County & Surrounding Areas

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In the custody context, both same-sex parents will be treated equally if there has been a valid adoption by both parents. An adoption decree provides both adoptive parents with rights to the child, including the right to seek custody in the event of a divorce. Therefore, if there has been a valid adoption, the court will determine custody the same way it does for opposite-sex parents: by looking at the child's best interest.

Specifically, courts will determine the best interest of the child by considering all relevant factors (giving weighted consideration to those affecting the child’s safety), including:

  • Which parent is more likely to allow ongoing contact between the child and the other parent
  • Any history of abuse committed by a parent or member of the parent’s family
  • The parental duties that each party performs on the child’s behalf
  • How custody arrangements will affect the stability of the child’s education, family life, and social life
  • The availability of extended family
  • How many children are involved
  • The child’s preference if they are mature enough
  • Whether either parent has tried to turn the child against the other parent
  • Which parent can provide and maintain a loving and stable relationship with the child
  • Which parent is more capable of meeting the child’s daily physical, emotional, educational, and developmental needs
  • Where each parent is located
  • The relationship between the parents and each parent’s willingness to cooperate with each other
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • Any other relevant factor other than gender

Where a parent is not biologically related to the child and has not adopted the child, that parent's right to custody of the child may not be protected under Pennsylvania law. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently said a former same-sex partner of a child's biological mother could not seek custody since she was not biologically related to the child and had not legally adopted him. In this case, the party seeking custody was not married to the mother of the child, however, even where the parents are married and are both listed on the birth certificate, the law remains unsettled, highlighting the importance of going through with a formal adoption.

In order for same-sex parents to ensure their right to custody in the future, it may be best to legally adopt the child.

If you have questions about your custody rights, call Notaro Calabrese & Epstein, P.C. at (412) 281-1988.

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