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Same-Sex Couple: Court Rules on Support, Visitation and Child Custody Agreement

Posted by attorney Lisa Ruggieri

While the world has become much more accepting of same-sex couples, with many states including Massachusetts -- now allowing couples to legally marry, there are still many issues that have to be ironed out as a result. The split of one same-sex couple has left a judge to decide on child support and visitation as part of a child custody agreement. However, the issues brought up in this case could affect all -- not just same-sex -- couples.

The case centers on the daughter of one of the members of the former couple. According to court records, both women raised the girl together while they were in a relationship. When the couple split, they both agreed that each woman would have an equal role in raising the child. However, two years after their split, the biological mother decided to restrict her former partner's role in the young girl's life. An initial ruling gave the non-biological woman some visitation and required her to pay approximately 17 percent of her income in child support.

Both women were unhappy with the ruling, and both appealed. The next ruling stated that the court had no authority to require the non-biological parent to pay child support. However, the court does have the right to provide visitation to a person who has a parent-like relationship with a child, even if not related, if it feels it is in the best interest of the child. As even the biological mother admits her former partner has a parent-child relationship with the girl, the visitation rights remained.

In any child custody case, it is important for both sides to consider the best interest of the child. Often it is difficult for former partners to separate their personal emotions from those surrounding their care of their child, but it is possible to do. Former partners in Massachusetts who have concerns surrounding visitation or custody have the right to have their case heard in a court of family law.

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