Study: Lesbian and gay parents face bias in child custody court

Posted by Lauren S. CohenMay 30, 20140 Comments

While the rights of gay and lesbian people continue to expand on both a state level and a national level, they still face many challenges, including here in New York. For example, a recent study has found that courts often rule against gay and lesbian parents in child custody cases. Despite a vast body of research that shows having gay and lesbian parents does not negatively affect children, many courts seem to rule as if it does have a poor impact. This is true in states that allow same-sex marriage and in states that do not, according to the Drexel University research.

The study found that judges are somewhat likely to consider a parent's sexual orientation when evaluating a child's best interests, and this can lead to gay and lesbian parents failing to receive custody. The researchers concluded that many courts seem to make an assumption that children are better off being raised by straight parents, essentially discriminating against gay parents.

An unfair bias can be very difficult for a gay or lesbian parent to overcome when seeking custody or visitation of a child.

The researchers believe that the answer to this issue is for states to enact legislation that would limit the ability of court systems to consider the sexual orientation of parents in child custody disputes, according to a news report.

For now, gay and lesbian parents in New York need to be aware that they may be in for an uphill battle if engaging in a child custody dispute. 

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