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Lesbian and gay parents face bias in court, study shows

| May 1, 2014 | Child Custody |

An emerging area of interest in academic research is a group of studies dedicated to finding out the differences between the parenting approaches of homosexual and heterosexual parents. Despite a growing pocket of research indicating there is no negative impact of having gay or lesbian parents, new research shows that judges and court staff often exhibit bias in child custody cases of this type.

Although gay marriage and gay rights are being considered much more openly in New Jersey and many other states, it seems that for gay couples, their sexuality is a crucial factor that influences child custody decisions handed down by judges. Many parents going into hearings over child custody issues already retain a high level of anxiety about the situation, but gay and lesbian individuals face an additional layer of fear as a result of this apparent bias.

The outcomes for children are not fair when bias is the main factor used to support a custody decision. According to research from Drexel University, judges and court evaluators currently don’t factor a lot of leading social science research about gay parents into their decision-making, putting these parents at a disadvantage.

While courts use the “best interests of the child” standard to determine child custody arrangements, there may be a lack of familiarity or understanding with more unique family arrangements. Study researchers applauded judges, lawyers, and court staff who sufficiently considered the rights of gay and lesbian couples in such cases.

Whatever the situation may be for a parent involved in a child custody case, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced attorney to better understand all of your options. 

Source: The Guardian, “For gay and lesbian parents, equality is a myth when it comes to custody cases,” Steven W. Thrasher, April 21, 2014

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