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What same-sex couples with kids should consider when separating

What happens to children when New Jersey couples divorce is usually a complicated matter, but when parents are of the same sex circumstances can be even more complex. All divorcing parents must face custody issues and the question of child support, but same-sex couples also have to deal with state and federal laws regarding gay marriage and divorce. There are a few key considerations a parent in a same-sex couple should take into account when considering separation from their partner.

State laws vary considerably regarding same-sex marriage and second-parent adoption. Parents must consider if their state recognizes same-sex marriage and divorce, and what the family laws say about custody and support. Parents should also research whether third parties, such as grandparents or biological parents, could sue for custody. If there was an agreement with surrogates, biological parents or between the same-sex couple regarding parenting rights and responsibilities, it should also be found and reviewed.

In addition to searching for agreements, parents should find documentation of how much money goes toward child support. Proof of income for both parents as well as expenses for the kids, like health insurance and childcare, should be gathered. An important guideline to follow when separating or divorcing is to keep the same routine in regards to the kids. Family courts heavily consider who is primarily caring for the children. A biological parent in the couple doesn't necessarily get full custody. If one parent tells the other to stay away from the kids, that directive shouldn't be followed unless stemming from a legal agreement.

Finally, both parents should consult with an experienced attorney who they feel that they can trust. An attorney who understands same-sex union laws at the state and federal level could offer invaluable information parents need to make the best decisions for their kids when ending a partnership.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Facing Divorce? Top 5 Things Same-Sex Couples With Children Need to Know", Nicole Sodoma , February 20, 2014

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