At this time, no one can dispute the ever-continuing evolution of society and culture. Now, the concept of what constitutes a family unit is also evolving and it looks like the courts are keeping up, at least in some cases.
As they do in traditional families, child custody disputes can arise in non-traditional families as well. These disputes often call for attorney and court involvement. Recently, it has come to the attention of the media that a New Jersey court helped resolve a dispute involving one child and three parents. As you might imagine, this tri-parenting arrangement includes one same-sex couple and one old friend.
Several years ago, three people—two males in a same-sex marriage and one female family friend—came together to conceive a child and then jointly raise the child. Reportedly, this arrangement worked out very well for some time until one of the male spouses—the biological father—began a new relationship. At this point, the biological male parent sought to move the child to another state, but the biological female parent and the male “psychological parent” protested.
In what may possibly turn into a trend-setting judgment, a New Jersey court made a surprising ruling in the case. The court has awarded all three of the child’s parents “joint legal and joint residential custody.” This case is unique at this time because it addresses many elements often present in non-traditional families: LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) parental rights, the concept of the bonded psychological parent and legal acceptance of the contemporary family unit.
If you are a New Jersey resident in a traditional or non-traditional family, do not let your child custody concerns go unaddressed. Regardless of your circumstances, a family law attorney can help you and the other parent(s) reach an agreement that addresses the child’s best interests and your unique needs.
Source: The Washington Post, “Tri-parenting in New Jersey family court,” Eugene Volokh, Feb. 16, 2016