Wednesday, February 13, 2013
There was a time in this country when family law was cut and dry. Custody cases were decided with children going to one parent or the other, with the one that lost the case getting some or no visitation rights.
When family laws were created all those years ago, no doubt the ones making the laws had no idea how things would change so radically over the next decades.
These days, family law covers everything from marriage to divorce, from adoption to custody, and from alimony to child support. Add in patchwork laws that differ from state to state about gay rights, same-sex benefits and children with multiple sets of parents and it is easy to see how laws in Illinois may differ from the same court in Connecticut.
Think about how someone could be affected by a custody case involving three mothers. By now you might scratch your head and wonder how someone could have three mothers. Let’s take this as an example. The first woman may want to get pregnant, but her own eggs for some reason do not fertilize properly with her partner’s sperm. So a second woman comes in, offers to be the egg donor, and the first woman is implanted with the second woman’s egg.
Now let’s say that something happens where the first woman decides not to keep the child. Maybe something takes place where she breaks up with the boyfriend or decides to divorce the husband, and the man doesn’t contest any parental rights – in short, he abdicates his responsibility. Here comes the entrance of a third woman that wants to adopt a child.
Not exactly cut and dry, is it? The days of one mother and one father deciding custodial rights aren’t over, but they have been joined by other factors.
Same-sex marriage and civil unions are becoming more popular and accepted around the country, but there are still many states where this is not allowed. So if a same-sex couple gets married in a legal state and moves to another state where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized, divorce laws or custody rules (if one of the women has a child) may not apply. Understand that same-sex couples would not likely move to a state where their marriage was not recognized, but it might be because of career or job reasons, etc.
Veteran lawyers will need to set the protocol for cases like this to gain more of an audience in the future. In his years with King and Spalding, Mr. Steven Guynn handled a variety of different law cases and took the initiative to lead the way into a new future for the law field. Visionary attorneys need to handle cases like same-sex marriage, shared custody, etc.
Family law may change 10 years from now. It may be much different than it looks today.
Studying for custody battles may take a lot more cracking the law books than usual.