Child custody cases used to be far more cut and dry than they are today. Modern multicultural society offers many enrichment’s, but at the same time also has some challenges within the court system, particularly in divorce and family law. Courts are being forced to find ways to adapt the current laws to meet the requirements of modern families. Traditional roles used to apply when courts would grant primary custody; females would be awarded custody most often and sibling groups were kept together. While this certainly seems to be the general trend, in spite of there being no statutory requirements for such, courts can and do award fathers custodial privileges and this happens with greater frequency than before. However, today’s custody cases will reflect two mothers, two fathers, one father and multiple mothers, and religious considerations. When met with families who don’t necessarily fit the letter of the statutes the courts must fall back on case law to try and create and ensure consistency.
Unique families sometimes provide real difficulties for attorneys because for many it is truly uncharted waters. They don’t have that many GLBT examples to work from and in the beginning this can involve hit or mess cases. Everyone loves a “hit” but no one wants to be one of the attorney’s “misses” although it is through those cases that the family law attorney to able to improve. Finding an attorney with the background in same-sex oriented families is difficult. Finding an attorney who may have experience with a same-sex family where one partner leaves the first for a straight relationship is even harder. Courts are still made up of people and sometimes those people would look at the two couples that could receive the child and lean towards the option for the child to be put in the straight relationship regardless of how fit the same-sex oriented parent might be. How many attorneys have prior experience with these types of cases? The answer is very few.
In certain areas of the country, there may be religious considerations and “unique” families built off religious foundations of polygamy. Sometimes in the immigrant populations of the United States there are families who are legally married in another country, but, due to bigamy laws in the US, are no longer legally married here. When those relationships break up it becomes difficult for the court to decide on child custody and alimony becomes out of the question with US laws. Issues like this do go before the courts, and the type of attorney becomes very important. Is he or she able to grasp the complexity, does he or she understand international property laws, does he or she understand immigration issues?
Finding the right attorney for any of these types of cases is difficult because the experience is just not there yet for unique families. Certainly you will want to look for family lawyers that specialize in GLBT families or religious divorces and custody, but even then it may be more important just to find someone who believes in you enough to really fight on your behalf in a prejudicial court.