Hoge Partners, PLLC - Louisville, Kentucky - LGBTQ Parents

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Hoge Partners, PLLC

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Custodial Rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Parents in Kentucky

LGBTQ parents generally have the same parental rights as heterosexual parents.  Whether a child is a natural descendant or an adopted child, the courts will be motivated by determining what is in the best interest of the child when making parenting decisions.

LGBTQ step-parents, however, just like their heterosexual counterparts, generally have no parenting rights, with one important exception (discussed below).

If Person A marries Person B, then Person B has no standing before the courts with respect to Person A's natural or adopted child/children -- UNLESS Person B is determined to be a de facto parent to the child/children.  If these two parties divorce, then Person B has no duty to support Person A's minor or dependent children and, further, has no right to visitation with the child/children if Person A objects to such visits.

On the other hand, de facto parents in Kentucky-- whether straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or otherwise -- have specific rights.

Kentucky has now joined at least 17 other states in recognizing "de facto" parents over the objections of "fit" biological parents when doing so is in the "best interest of the child".

See KRS 403.270, entitled  "Custodial issues -- Best interests of child shall determine -- Joint custody permitted -- De facto custodian" for further discussion.


With respect to custody of children born to or being raised by same sex couples:

The Kentucky Supreme Court made a landmark decision on January 21, 2010 in the case of Mullins v. Picklesimer.  The case involves two women who were previously a lesbian couple.  One of them gave birth to a child through artificial insemination.  The women filed a joint custody agreement the following year (2006) but split up two months later.  A short time later, the birth mother denied her former partner contact with the child, giving rise to several years of legal action.

This 2010 decision reverses a Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling saying that the non-birth mother "lacked standing" to pursue joint custody of the boy, who was then 5, because she was not technically a parent.

The high court of Kentucky's ruling is significant to same-gender couples as well as to family members such as grandparents and also non-related persons who have been significantly involved in raising children as it may give them legal standing to seek custody even if they are not a biological parent if doing so is in the best interest of the child.

In Mullins v. Picklesimer, the majority of the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the former couple made multiple decisions about the child before and after his birth, with the non-biological person caring for the boy while the women were together and for five months after they split up.  "This would distinguish the nonparent acting as a parent to the child from a grandparent, a baby-sitter, or a boyfriend or girlfriend of the parent, who watched the child for the parent, but who was never intended by the parent to be doing so in the same capacity of another parent," wrote Justice Wil Schroeder in the majority opinion.

The dissenting minority of the Kentucky Supreme Court expressed concern that this decision opens the door for a host of people to petition for joint custody, so long as they can show shared participation in child rearing, and threatens to destabilize some families.


If you are concerned about protecting or enforcing your rights as a LGBTQ parent or de facto custodian, please make an appointment with our office for an initial consultation.  

Other LGBTQ Legal Issues:

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and non-heterosexual couples and individuals have other significant legal issues besides dependency, abuse and neglect cases, such as:

The attorneys at Hoge Partners, PLLC will be happy to talk to you about your legal options affected by gender identity and/or sexual orientation.  Call us today.