Recently, I had a case where I represented the non-biological mother in a divorce and child custody action. My opposing counsel strongly believed that the child custody portion of the divorce would be dismissed in light of the In Re A.E. case. You can read the case here.
This case originated in Montgomery County, Texas and was heard in the Beaumont Court of Appeals. This is important because this case is not binding on Harris County, Texas Judges.
That case found that the non-biological parent could not have custody or visitation of the child that was born during the marriage between these two women. There are several factors that came into play in the court’s decision on this such as the involvement of the non-biological mother, the relationship status at the time of the birth, the support of the child, etc.
In my case, I was in Harris County, Texas and I had a very involved non-biological mother as a client. My opposing counsel filed a Motion to Dismiss the child custody portion of the case based in large part on the above-case. I filed a reply citing to several other cases and interpretations of similar family codes. The Judge listened to the arguments of both counsel and in the end ruled that the child custody case would remain. As a result, the case ultimately settled in mediation where both mothers have appropriate visitation and rights to their child.
Same-sex couple divorces and/or child custody cases often require deeper research than just reading the Texas Family Code. In divorce cases the attorney may need to look into common law marriage options. In child custody cases a creative reading of the Texas Family Code and being able to explain it to a Judge is necessary.
Hiring any family law attorney may not be enough if you are a same-sex couple as that attorney may not know the creative uses of the Texas Family Code and may not be aware of the newest cases interpreting the code. There are several attorneys in the Houston area who have a strong focus on same-sex couples in family law. I recommend meeting with one, whether it is me or not, if you are going through a divorce or child custody case (or both).