For years, family court judges leaned toward a maternal preference when it came to custody disputes. But what to do when both parents are women, or neither is? Judges in Massachusetts have been grappling with that question since gay and lesbian couples began filing for divorce in 2004, seven months after the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.
Why not award the kids to the biological parent? Amateur.
In the case of the doctor, she and her spouse each gave birth to a boy fathered by the same sperm donor. They then adopted one another’s sons. Biologically, their children are half-siblings; legally, they are full brothers.
Fun. The legal rights attendant with marriage (hospital visitation and medical decisions, inheritance, insurance, etc.) clearly make it a transformative experience in a good way for most gay and straight couples alike. Looking back on my own fairly short married life, as Edith Piaf liked to say, Non, je ne regrette rien. Now a moment of silence for those who just might.
How soon until Republicans try to pass the “Defense of Divorce Act” to protect the sacred tradition of spending a few hundred grand in legal fees for the right to get your significant other’s prized Strat and light it on fire in the garage?
I spent too many years working in Family law. It was like being an employee on the Jerry Springer Show.
I guess we could use divorce as an argument against gay marriage – we’re protecting them from the agony and sleaze of divorce.
‘sup Gov. Huckabee?
I’ve always postulated that part of the reason the divorce rate in this country is so high is the staggering amount of weight the American legal system and economy put on the act of marriage. Getting married is the most legally significant thing most people will do in their lifetime, and I think the financial and practical entanglements that are a byproduct of the law only serve to undermine the original intent of coupling. But I’ve never been married and I’m young, so my thought process may be a bit shallow here.
Here’s an idea, let’s outlaw marriage completely, at least from a civil standpoint. If your church wants to let you and another person marry, fine, but under the law you’re still two individuals.
As for children, you spawn ’em, you pay for ’em.
The Other Steve
myiq2xu is onto something. If you don’t get married, you can never get divorced.
BAN MARRIAGE NOW!
Slightly OT…Can a sperm donor request/demand that his troopers not be sunk into a lesbian, claiming Jesus Freak Status and other Bible bullshit?
The Other Steve
I’m imagining a room filled with good wholesome Christian Pr0n.
It’s not just the US, though; marriage always has been first and foremost a legal contract, spelling out the rights and responsibilities of each party, control of property, legitimizing heirs, etc.
Translation: Family court Judges almost always rule in favor of the woman.
Seems that the Family court Judges are now confused that there is no man to shaft or woman to favor in same-sex marriage.
Of course, this is Massachusetts.
Come on now Punchy – any red-blooded Armerican male should believe that he can cure lesbianism by personally sinking his troopers into a lesbo.
Do it for Jeebus and Old Glory!
They could always make a subjective decision on who the more manly looking partner is. This might help whittle things down to only the hot lesbians.
The only thing Family Courts want to know about the father is how much does he make and how much can they take. It’s a ridiculous sham of a system.
You may not regret anything, but the beautiful smell of warm sand.
(It’s a Piaf joke.)
Do the world a favor and get a vasectomy.
Uh, yeah. It’s called a gag order, Paul. And you certainly don’t have a problem with it when the Bush Admin uses “ongoing investigation” as a reason to stonewall every non-shill reporter or FOIA request that gets within ignoring distance of him.
But Paul’s the same guy who will insist to his dying day that obstruction of justice isn’t an “underlying crime” and bemoans how Democratic Subpoenas are so horribly illegal and unfair. My faith in his legal expertise is… lacking.
I think you are confusing me with Hugh Hewitt. I do not remember ever saying Democratic (Congressional?) Subpoenas are illegal.
I remember Janet Reno using that excuse too.
BTW, when did using the excuse “ongoing investigation” prevent anyone from publishing a story or book?
I’ve always supported teh gay marriage. Teh gays should suffer like the rest of us.
You’d face the same question if the child were adopted and there wasn’t a biological parent in the mix at all. I think this will be very interesting. The assumption that women are “naturally” better parents has always struck me as unfair to both genders. Some people just make crap parents. If this forces courts to look at something more tangible than a person’s plumbing it should benefit the court system and kids.
Adding insult to injury – Back when the first gay marriages were conducted, I really questioned the wisdom of it all. Hadn’t they suffered enough already?
I’ve read this three times, and I still can’t see how this relates to the Duke rape case.
Cassidey thinks he deserves unconditional respect and support from people he has nothing but distain and contempt for.
He thinks he is owed something because he is “protecting” us, even though we never asked him to “protect” us and most of us oppose the war and don’t think it is making us any safer.
So I guess we shouldn’t expect him to support any child(ren) he has fathered. He probably considers them and their mother(s) to be a burden. He thinks he is doing a service to the world by spreading his seed, but the world would be better served if he spilled his seed upon the ground.
Low IQ makes way too many assumptions.
Well, congrats to those gay couples for winning the right to eff up their kids just like heterosexual parents do. Now they can demonstrate their ability to use their kids as weapons against each other just as well as straight people do.
As to the maternal preference, I agree with this sentiment:
And it’s about time. There should be no preference for either parent, not when such a preference was premised on children being more familiar with the stay-at-home mom. Women are frequently back to work within weeks or months of giving birth, and courts should consider who is the best parent and leave patriarchal notions at the courtroom door.
Yes, he assumes that you mean what you write. Silly man, expecting consistency from you.
I am a practicing family law attorney and I can honestly say, I really haven’t seen any bias toward one gender. What I do see quite often is that Mom is the primary caretaker for the kids, and when parents split, Mom continues to be the primary caretaker while Dad moves out and visits (sometimes regularly, sometimes not). So what you end up with 9 months later when you get into Court for the custody hearing is Mom walking in with an established track record and defacto custody for the past 9 months and Dad having been the non custodial parent. Most, if not all, family court judges look for stability and minimum disruption to the kids when making a final determination so leaving the kids in the routine they’ve been following for months is usually the way it shakes out. Unless Mom has done some pretty unpleasant things, it’s hard to get past that basic math.
Not all the family court judges are that swift, not all of them make great decisions all the time (even the good ones get it wrong sometimes), but most are pretty consistent. The Father’s Rights guys and people yelling about bias usually turn out to be nothing more than a) guys who are pissed because they didn’t get the outcome they wanted or b) guys who are pissed at having to pay child support.
My experience as a family law attorney is that guys who really want to be part of their kids lives will do fine in family court.
But many of the guys who seek custody want their new wife or girlfriend to assume the burden of caring for the kids.
BTW – Custody is much more work and much more expensive than paying support and visiting occasionally.
That makes complete and utter sense.
Quote where I said those things. Have fun looking.
I don’t know how accurate this is but many moons ago the head of a child support enforcment group said fathers’ attornies often used custody as a bargaining chip. As in “Shut up about child support or I’ll request full custody.” I don’t know if this was backed up by anything other than anectdotal evidence, but I wonder if any fathers were ever surprised when the mother said “OK.”
Only if mom and the kids are civillians.
You forgot to add:
And do not complain when to results are wrong, because that makes you a deadbeat dad.
So in your view, these are OK?
Florida Supreme Court: Man Must Pay Child Support For Kid That Isn’t His.
Sperm donor ordered to support lesbian couple’s 18-year old son.
Not uncommon to have things like that happen. Horse trading over everything from alimony to property to child support comes into it when you’re trying to get a case done.
It’s not an easy area of law to practice in, you’ve got to have the right sense of humor to do this every day.
Paul L.: not sure what your comment even means, nor what the 2 dubious examples you provided are supposed to show about trial courts and family law.
Paul L., there are, and have been, cases where men have been royally screwed over by the custody system. And there are, and have been, cases where men have been royally screwed over by a woman’s right to choose. Is it fair? No. Is there a way to adjust the legal system so that nobody ever gets screwed over? No, there’s not. A relative of mine makes one-fifth of what her ex does, he scrutinizes and begrudges every penny that he has to spend on child support, and she’s at serious risk of losing her job due to taking too many personal days, because anytime the kids have been sick, Asshat has refused to take any of his sick days in order to care for them. It’s not fair, and the courts can’t do squat about it.
It’s sad, and it’s unfortunate, but people get screwed over every day. That’s what happens when people reproduce — it gets complicated. And there’s really just no way of always creating a solution where everybody wins. I wish there was.
You are Jonah Goldberg, and I claim my five pounds.
Damn, clicked on the WaPo link and was hoping to see a photo of hot lesbians. So disappointed. But I see teh ghey doesn’t automatically confer common sense.
The few times I’ve referred to my better half in a comment here I’ve generally called her my wife, but we’re not “legally” married. But we’ve got the situation the lesbians are going through covered.
When we first met it was after brief, DISASTEROUS first marriages for each. We were both a bit gunshy about going down that marriage aisle again anytime soon. We’ve been together now for 11 years. Have two children, own property together, have our own separate bank, brokerage, and retirement accounts, but we’re still not married.
Over the years with a couple of attorneys along the way we’ve created our own personalized civil union. Through it and several powers of attorney we have more rights than typically granted by a state to a husband/wife in a marriage contract. In fact I better stay on her good side because if I was in bad shape in a hospital, as soon as I closed my eyes she could pull the damn plug.
We’re also pre-divorced. If either decides to walk away, we have a framework for the distribution of assets, child custody and support, and other issues. Far better to make those decisions together when you’re warm, cuddly and rational with each other than possibly later when all you’re thinking is bringing out the long knives and jihad. With attorneys cheering you on as their billable hours skyrocket.
It’s worked for us. And it’s not less than a marriage as “to love, honor, and cherish” is not granted nor enforceable through a marriage contract or any other.
No doubt during the time we’ve been together plenty of pious socons who’ve pledged “till death do us part” before God are now on their second, third, whatever marriages. Piss off. Hypocrites. We’re far more committed to each other than they ever were in their marriage.
Tsulagi: “With attorneys cheering you on as their billable hours skyrocket.”
I’ve always believed that a good attorney works with his (or her) client to reach the most effective outcome in a cost-efficient way. There will always be bottom feeders, though, who go to trial regardless (and do their client a disservice in the process). That, and legal fees add up fast, particularly when you have a client that decides you are not just their attorney but their therapist as well. It doesn’t take long to piss away that $5,000 retainer listening to complaining and soul-searching for an hour-per-phone call from a client.
“family court judges leaned toward a maternal preference when it came to custody disputes. But what to do when both parents are women, or neither is?”
This is SO fucking infuriating. More states are leaning toward what’s know as “joint legal custody” and that is CLEARLY whatis called for here absent any physical abuse of the child or spouse.
It is a SIN how backwards family courts still are in many cases: anyone who still falls back on “maternal custody is the child’s best interest” is living in 1952. In fact, in more and more states, joint legal custody is the presumption. I am surprised Massachusetts hasn’t caught up.
Cassidy: “The only thing Family Courts want to know about the father is how much does he make and how much can they take. It’s a ridiculous sham of a system.”
myiq2xu: Do the world a favor and get a vasectomy.”
Cassidy is unfortunately correct. I have watched my brother go through the family court system of NJ and it has been hideous. The child’s mother is horrible, verbally abusive and neglectful, and it has taken return trip after return trip after return trip to get any kind of relief. And my brother is no deadbeat. If the initial assumption had been joint legal custody, he would have saved hundreds if not thousands in lawyer fees, lost wages, and return trips to court to force the mother to live up to her responsibilities.
the courts are also particularly biased against low-income families. Because CSE won’t accept in-kind support (such as day care provided by unemployed noncustodial fathers), you get these fathers who are trying to be involved in their children’s lives and doing what they are capable of doing thrown in jail for arrearages they can’t possibly pay. the end result is that a lot of low-income families refuse to deal with the system. That’s why we have programs like Parents Fair Share, to help deal with this inequity.
The “ridiculous sham of a system” is exactly the reason my ex and I decided to handle our custody and child support issues out of court as well.
myiq2xu: Custody is much more work and much more expensive than paying support and visiting occasionally.
This is true: custody is a HELL of a lot harder than paying child support. It is also a hell of a lot more preferable when you love your children. I would sell both my legs, one of my arms, and probably several organs to have custody of my son. Cus you know what’s harder than custody? Not seeing your own kid for weeks, sometimes months at a time. It makes you want to commit suicide.
Speaking from experience.
I wasn’t just a family law attorney, I was a client too.
I switched to criminal law, it’s a lot less emotional. Seriously.
Call an attorney to cry on their shoulder? For therapy? Okay, now that’s funny.
If I were in a long, drawn out, painful divorce, and I wanted therapy, I’d call a hooker well before my attorney. About the same difference, but the former would be far more satisfying and effective.
When I commented about the long knives coming out and jihad with attorneys cheering it on, I was thinking of a couple we know. Their divorce is now going on two years because they can’t come to a property agreement and custody issues. Crazy. And the way it looks is that they won’t until their attorneys have eaten it up in fees.