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Transgender Parents Fighting for Parental Rights in Divorce

transgender parents

For transgender parents who have either come out or transitioned after having a child, divorce can lead to bitter emotions in a former spouse. Those feelings, along with fears and stigmas, might also result in major efforts to restrict custody and/or visitation of a couple’s children. Unfortunately, transgender people are often challenged as unfit parents, who participated in an illegitimate marriage. Not only can this result in devastating emotional scarring; it can influence one’s very children in their outlook and feelings toward a transgender parent, and ultimately impact that parent’s ability to maintain a healthy legal relationship with the children. If you find yourself in need of a local child custody attorney to address these kinds of issues, the experienced team at Beck Family Law can help.

 Transgender Parents – Case Law

Legal outcomes for transgender parents have run the gamut, from favorable to demoralizing.  In one Colorado case, the court found that being in the transgender parent’s home in no way compromised the children’s emotional and physical health. Custody was awarded to that parent, albeit after a lengthy court battle.

Not all conclusions have been as favorable to transgender parents. In Washington, a judge declined to award custody to a transgender parent, citing inconclusive studies on the impact it might have on children. An Ohio court, on the other hand, found that a transgender parent would cause real psychological harm to progeny, a reaction to testimony stating that exposure to the transgender parent would have a sociopathic impact on the child. Other courts, such as one in Nevada, have completely severed parental rights altogether, stating that the parent had essentially terminated her own rights as a father by becoming transgender.

The bottom line is that there has been no established rule as to how to address transgender parental rights. There is no finding that transgender parents are inherently unfit, or that parental rights should always be handled in a particular way.

California Law

In this state, gender has no impact on the legality of the marriage contract. Even if one partner transitions to another gender after getting married, the relationship is legitimate.  Likewise, when a transgender individual is the biological parent or adoptive parent, you are legally recognized as the child’s parent. There are other ways you might be able to claim parentage, including having lived with or raised a child during a domestic partnership or marriage, or by consenting to conception using assisted reproduction methods. That being said, it should be noted that most courts are generally inexperienced in matters related to transgender individuals, and if your spouse is resistant to having you in the child(ren)’s lives, you may have a difficult battle ahead.

Advocating for You

From the get go, it is essential to make every effort to convince the court of the ways that having you in your child(ren)’s lives can be of benefit to them. That means calling expert witnesses to testify to the specific research on transgender parental fitness, as well as character witnesses who can vouch for you as an individual and as a parent. Remember, the child’s best interest is the primary consideration in custody and visitation issues.  If your case is in Sonoma County, Mendocino County, or Lake County California and you want aggressive legal representation, contact Beck Law P.C., in Santa Rosa to schedule a confidential consultation today.

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