New York’s neighboring state of New Jersey has just approved same-sex marriage. With the influx of new same-sex couples throughout the region and throughout the nation, many are celebrating this positive legal change. What these states and families may not have considered, though, is the fact that some of these families will eventually break up. Child custody cases in same-sex civil unions become increasingly complicated, especially if one partner has a biological connection to the couple’s children and the other does not. Existing laws favor those who have traditional parental rights, which can make drafting a child custody arrangement harrowing, at best.

If the couple is able to marry, however, each partner will share parental rights to the children, regardless of biology. This is a major consideration for same-sex couples who are raising families.

This situation is illustrated in the recent divorce between famous designer David Tutera and his partner. Biology still played a role in that breakup, as the couple divorced when their surrogate was pregnant with twins. Each partner had a biological tie to one of the children. As a result, each man will have custody of the child he biologically partnered. Courts have still not determined whether the twins will be able to have a relationship with each other thanks to custody agreements.

Marriage equality in many cases also means equality for parenting rights. For many families, child custody agreements have consisted of informal agreements, especially if the breakup was amicable. For others, some members of same-sex couples suffer because they are not permitted to enjoy visitation with the children they helped raise.

Same-sex couples who are considering divorce can consult qualified divorce attorneys to find out more about the child custody laws in their state. These legal professionals can provide advice and guidance for families who seeking assistance with their divorces.

Source:, “How biology matters with same-sex couples with kids split up” Abbie E. Goldberg, Oct. 12, 2013