At a recent meeting of a family law organization, a speaker reported on a recent case that was heard by the Beaumont Court of Appeals. It involved a lesbian couple and their fight over visitation with six year old twins. The biological mother won the legal fight and the non-biological mother was denied contact with the children, who she had co-parented for the six years that the couple were together.
Later I learned that the story was even more complicated because the non-biological mother had also had a child, and the twins and her child had been living as siblings before the couple split up. The Court of Appeals decision was based on legal technicalities, and from a legal standpoint might be correct. But what about the children? What will be the effect on the twins of suddenly being separated from a person who acted as their parent all of their lives? And what will be the psychological effect on all three children of suddently losing the love and companionship of lifelong siblings? One can only speculate, but I would assume it would be devastating.
Lesbian and gay couples in Texas contemplating sharing parenting roles must understand that Texas law, and the law in most states, probably will not be available to assist them if their relationships break down. I don’t know the statistics, but I would assume that homosexual couples are no different than heterosexual couples whose marriages have a 50% chance of failing. In my experience, collaborative law offers an excellent vehicle for Lesbian and gay couples to reach contractual agreements regarding their coparenting relationships before they commit to having children and, if they have children and their relationship is ending, reaching coparenting agreements after separation. Collaborative family lawyers are trained to assist couples in focusing on the children, and often enlist the assistance of child specialists who can assist them in devising arrangements that work best for them and the children.