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Are judges biased against same-sex couples?

Despite a growing body of research about the value of same-sex parents, a recent study from Drexel University points out that judges may not be familiar with these projects. This puts Maryland same-sex couples at risk of facing bias in their child custody disputes.

More social science research indicates that same-sex parents do no harm to children, though a surprising number of custody disputes seemed to be settled based on the parent’s sexuality. Researchers believe that education on current research would be beneficial for judges, mental health professionals, and custody evaluators. As judges are instructed to heavily weigh the best interests of the child in handing down a custody arrangement decision, research regarding same-sex couple parenting should be included in this evaluation.

Although more states have adopted same-sex marriage and other reforms, the same-sex legal landscape is largely uncertain. In addition to legislators taking the lead to promote policies that prevent judges from making biased child custody decisions on the grounds of sexual orientation, parents can protect themselves by working with an attorney who is familiar with this area of the law and recognizes their unique needs.

Without committed professionals on their side who see the value of the true best interests of the child, parents’ rights may be infringed upon by those who are expected to uphold the law. Child custody is a nerve-wracking process for anyone but especially so for same-sex couples. A system that promotes their rights and the rights of their children is beneficial for society, too.

Source: Advocate.com, “Gay, lesbian parents still face bias in custody disputes,” Trudy Ring, April 22, 2014

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