Same-sex divorces are a relatively new area of law that multiple states in the country have failed to adequately address, leaving couples in precarious positions if they end their marriage. LBGT couples may have unique concerns during divorce, particularly if the couple shares children.
It is commonplace for only one of the parents in an LGBT couple to have a biological connection to the children. In some cases, neither parent is biologically related to the children, but only one of them has formally adopted the children.
Standard custody determinations once focused solely on biological connections or formal adoption, meaning the other spouse wouldn’t have grounds to seek shared custody or even visitation. However, Georgia has changed its custody laws in a way that can benefit LGBT couples going through a divorce.
The Equitable Caregiver law establishes the rights of unrelated adults
In any custody determination, the guiding principle should always be what is in the best interest of the child or children. Typically, preserving existing, positive relationships with adult caregivers will help children experiencing the family trauma of divorce.
Under Georgia’s new statute, any adult, even those with no formal legal connection or biological tie to the child, who have served as a caregiver to that child can assert their rights to visitation or even shared custody.
In the event that an LGBT couple has a contentious divorce with custody proceedings where the spouse with legal or biological ties wants to sever the child’s relationship with their former spouse, the Equitable Caregiver law may protect that other parent and their relationship with the child.