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Child Custody in Same-Sex Divorces

Rundberg Law, LLC April 7, 2023

Same sex couple fightingDivorce can be a potentially devastating experience for couples. This experience can become even more complicated when children are involved. Same-sex couples in Kansas often wonder about child custody as it relates to their same-sex divorce. 

As a child custody and divorce attorney at Rundberg Law, LLC, I support clients as they navigate the sea of misinformation out there. I strive to provide professional and compassionate legal counsel to same-sex couples in Overland Park, Kansas, throughout Johnson County, as well as throughout the state of Missouri. Set up a one-on-one consultation when you are ready to move forward. 

Equal Rights for Same-Sex Couples in Kansas

Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages nationwide in 2015, same-sex couples in Kansas have the same legal rights and protections in a divorce as heterosexual couples, as long as they are legally married in Kansas or another state. 

In a divorce, the same legal issues apply to same-sex and heterosexual couples, including property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. The courts will consider the same factors in determining how to divide property and allocate parental responsibilities, regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the parties involved. 

Custody Arrangements in Kansas

In Kansas, custody arrangements in a divorce or separation are based on the child’s best interests. The state recognizes two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. 

Legal custody refers to the authority to make important decisions about a child’s life, such as education, medical care, and religious upbringing. In Kansas, legal custody may be awarded solely to one parent (sole legal custody) or jointly to both parents (joint legal custody). 

Physical custody refers to the daily caretaking of the child in terms of residency, including the time that a child spends with each parent. In Kansas, physical custody may be awarded solely to one parent (sole physical custody) or jointly to both parents (joint physical custody). 

Factors Considered in Determining Custody

When determining custody arrangements, the court may consider several factors, including: 

  • The child’s age and developmental needs 

  • The physical and mental health of each parent 

  • The child’s relationship with each parent 

  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs 

  • The child’s preferences, if they are mature enough to express them 

Ultimately, custody arrangements in Kansas aim to promote the child’s best interests while preserving the child’s relationship with both parents to the extent possible. 

Child Custody Agreements When Both Spouses Are Legal Parents in Kansas 

In Kansas, when both spouses are legal parents of a child, they have equal rights and responsibilities to their child unless a court order states otherwise. This situation means both parents have the right to decide about their child’s upbringing, including education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. 

Child Custody Agreements When Only One Spouse Is a Legal Parent 

Consider a situation regarding a same-sex couple. Suppose that only one spouse is a legal parent of the child. In this situation, the non-legal parent may seek custody or the right to spend time with the child through the legal process. This situation may involve filing a petition with the court, attending a hearing, providing evidence to support their case, and more. When deciding on custody and other matters, the court will consider the child’s best interests. 

In some cases, the non-legal parent may be awarded custody or the right to spend time with the child if it is in their best interests. However, the legal parent still retains primary rights and responsibilities concerning the child, including the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing and the obligation to provide financial support. 

Child Custody Agreements When Both Spouses Jointly Adopted the Child in Kansas 

When both spouses in a same-sex couple have jointly adopted a child in Kansas, both spouses have equal legal rights and responsibilities. This situation means that both spouses are the child’s legal parents.  

Possible Challenges Same-Sex Couples May Face in Kansas

Although gay couples have the same rights as any other couple in Kansas, they may face specific challenges in child custody. 

First, not all family courts may understand the parent-child dynamic between same-sex parents and their children. As a result, the courts may not rule in the child’s best interests. While the court has the child’s best interests at heart, their lack of understanding might skew their decisions in one way or another. 

Second, consider the unexpected legal challenges that may arise if the child custody issue goes to court. Same-sex couples—and any kind of couple—are encouraged to work with an experienced family law and child custody attorney. A skilled attorney can ensure that divorcing couples reach an agreement that considers the child’s best interests, whether that agreement is made outside the courtroom or through a judge’s final ruling. 

Understand & Protect Your Rights 

No one should have to go through a divorce alone, especially a divorce involving children. At Rundberg Law, LLC, I aim to do my best to help all sorts of couples understand and protect their rights. Above all, I’m here to put children’s interests first. Reach out to me today to get started.