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Could sexual orientation be an issue in Florida custody cases?

Parents who are preparing for a child custody battle must take the time to view their position from all angles. That means taking a critical view of anything and everything that could conceivably be presented as evidence of poor parenting if the matter ends up in a court of law. For Florida parents, those issues often fall along the lines of how much time they have to dedicate to raising their kids, their past experiences as a parent and any issues that could show them in a negative light, such as criminal convictions or drug and alcohol abuse. As a ruling in another state illustrates, there are cases in which even a parent's sexual orientation can be portrayed as a detrimental influence on the life of a child.

The case focused on a family that raised three children in a very religious, conservative environment. When the mother discovered that she was gay, a divorce and child custody battle followed. During the custody case, a guardian ad litem testified that the mother's sexual orientation could be difficult for her children to process, given their strict Christian conservative upbringing.

The father was awarded primary custody, and the mother appealed. On appeal, the higher court found that the lower court had placed undue focus on the matter of the mother's sexual orientation. The case was overturned, and the parties will appear before a new judge in the lower court system to have the matter heard once again. In that process, it can be expected that the father's legal team will need to find other issues to argue if he would like to be granted primary custody once again.

As this case shows, there continue to be vastly different attitudes concerning sexual orientation, even as the nation seems to be moving toward more acceptance of homosexual rights. For parents in Florida who feel that their sexual orientation might be brought into their child custody case, outcomes like the one mentioned above could provide a degree of peace of mind. That said, an aggressive legal stance is the best way to secure a positive outcome in most contentious child custody cases.

Source: thenewstribune.com, "Lesbian mom's sexual orientation wrongly considered in custody case, state Supreme Court says", Alexis Krell, April 6, 2017

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