same-sex marriage Archives | Cordell & Cordell

Same-sex partner denied shared child custody

The former partner in a lesbian relationship was denied partial child custody of a daughter that she helped raise and financially support, according to multiple reports.

In a 4 to 3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that Michelle Hobbs of Cincinnati was not legally eligible to share custody of the now 5-year-old girl. The court ruled that Kelly Mullen, the girl’s biological mother, did not agree to share legal custody of the child, despite planning the in-vitro pregnancy with Hobbs and naming her as “co-parent” in power-of-attorney documents.

Mullen reportedly voided those documents after she and her child moved out of the home they shared with Hobbs in 2007. In the court’s majority opinion, Justice Robert Cupp said that “co-parenting” can have many different meanings and suggested that same-sex couple’s may want to draft a written contract regarding custody rights in order to protect their interests.

“Co-parenting can have many different meanings and can refer to many different arrangements and degrees of permanency,” he wrote.

Some experts say that the legalization of gay marriage in several states may lead to more court cases regarding child custody among couples that divorce. The issue has particularly come to light after New York legalized same sex marriage last month, the largest state in the U.S. to do so.

Lower divorce rate in states with gay marriage

States that recognize same sex marriage tend to have lower divorce rates, according to an analysis of provisional government data.

Five out of the 10 states in the nation with the lowest divorce rates per thousand people are also among the nine states that perform and recognize gay marriages. According to U.S. News and World Report, although states that permit a wider variety of marriages would similarly have more divorce, provisional data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System found that the number of divorces in jurisdictions that recognize or perform same sex marriages is 41.2 percent of the number of marriages in 2009. In comparison, in other states that rate was 50.3 percent.

However, other data suggests that states with same sex marriages are just as likely to end in divorce as traditional unions. Gary Gates, a member of a sexual orientation law think tank and the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, told the news source that divorce rates in Massachusetts have not changed since same-sex marriage became legal in 2004.

In addition, some suggest that newlywed same sex couples are more likely to be older than opposite sex couples and often have higher levels of education, both factors that researchers believe lowers the risk for divorce.

Last month, New York became the newest – and largest – state to legalize gay marriage. Same sex marriages will officially become legal in the state on July 24.

Former lesbian’s custody case turns manhunt

A child custody case has become a global manhunt after a lesbian-turned-evangelical Christian disappeared with the daughter after splitting up with her partner and renouncing homosexuality, according to The Associated Press.

The story began in 2000 after the woman, Lisa Miller, was joined in a civil union in Vermont. Two years later Miller gave birth to their daughter, who was conceived via artificial insemination, before the couple broke up in 2004 when Miller renounced her homosexuality and joined the Mennonite church.

A federal arrest warrant was issued for Miller after she failed to show for a court-ordered custody swap in January 2010, reported the AP. Miller reportedly took her daughter to Nicaragua in 2009 before vanishing again, which authorities believe she has managed with the help of religious groups. The FBI recently apprehended Nicaraguan missionary Timothy David “Timo” Miller, who is has been charged with abetting an international kidnapping by arranging travel and lodging for Miller in Central America.

“It is hard to understand how anyone could consider a childhood on the run better and more stable than one surrounded by family, with two parents and two sets of grandparents who can provide love and support,” Jenkins wrote in an email to the news source.

Determining child custody among gay couples is an issue divorce lawyers are still investigating. Following the passage of same-sex marriage in New York, divorce lawyers told multiple media outlets that child custody between lesbian couples in situations where only one woman is biologically related to the child may pose some legal complications in court.

Lawyers expect gay marriage to bring business

Divorce lawyers are one group certainly cheering for New York’s successful bid to legalize same-sex marriage.

According to multiple media outlets, divorce lawyers and experts expect to see a whole new demographic of clients in their office, although they are not necessarily celebrating a possible increase in business.

“I may be a divorce lawyer, but I don’t hope for the demise of marriages,” Bettina D. Hinden, a divorce lawyer, told the New York Times.

Bettina said understanding the new implications for divorce posed by gay marriage is an issue that will be investigated in coming weeks. Child custody questions – such as a case where a lesbian couple raises a child together but only one is the legal guardian and birth mother – and where a couple can actually divorce are two major complications that may come to light.

Alton Abramowitz, the vice president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, told the New York Daily News that divorce lawyers will likely see an increase in business over the next decade. In addition, he said there will likely be a surge in gay and lesbian couples requesting prenuptial agreements.

New York is the the largest state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa and Washington, D.C., have also legalized the institution for gay couples.