The Law Offices of James A. Cuddy, LLC

Transgender parents can face serious child custody woes

The law is slow to catch up to social change; this is true today and has been true throughout history. Often, society is able to adapt to changes in social structures long before Connecticut courts are prepared or equipped to address thorny issues. Matters of divorce and child custody provide an excellent example of this phenomenon, and the dangers faced by those parents who are at the forefront of social change.

With the gender transformation of Olympian Bruce Jenner, a great deal of focus has been turned toward the difficulties facing those in America who seek to change their gender identity. While Jenner's children are adults, many transgender parents are fearful of how a family court might approach their fitness as a parent. While no two courtrooms are ever exactly alike, transgender parents might be well-founded in those fears.

When child custody is in debate, many parents try to present a legal argument that they are better equipped to meet the needs of their children than their former partner. This can take a variety of forms, but transgender parents may have a difficult hurdle to cross. While few courts would assert that gender identity in and of itself poses a problem for children, a string argument can be made that a shift from one gender to the other can be both confusing and disrupting to a child.

If an expert witness can be found to testify to the difficulties that kids of transgender families face, the battle could become even more difficult. For parents in Connecticut who face this type of child custody challenge, it is imperative to structure a legal argument that points out that losing access to a parent is far more damaging than any potential confusion or social difficulties that can arise when Mom or Dad choose to transition to the opposite gender. The courts may eventually catch up to the social acceptance that those in Jenner's position enjoy, but until then, a strong legal approach is the safest bet.

Source: mainstreet.com, "Transgender Parents Face Uphill Battle For Child Custody and Visitation in Court", Juliette Fairley, May 20, 2015

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