A recent family court outcome is being heralded as a victory for families who choose an alternative lifestyle. The case resulted in shared custody of a 10-year-old boy between a man and two women. For those in Louisiana who have crafted families that are unconventional, this case gives hope that courts are becoming more sensitive to the many different ways that families are constructed, and to the need for new approaches to recognition of parentage.
The matter centers on a couple who wanted to conceive a child but were unable to do so. They met a female neighbor, and began a romantic relationship with her. The three lived as a family for years before the neighbor became pregnant. The parties agreed to raise the child together, but when the little boy was around 1-year-old, a change was made.
At that time, the wife left her husband and moved in with the neighbor, taking the child with them. The father was left with no option but to pursue a child custody case. When the matter went before a judge, the judge found that the child loved all three parties as parents, and granted shared custody between the three individuals.
This case is illustrative of the difficult legal matters that come before family courts, in Louisiana and across the nation. As more and more people choose to construct unique family arrangements, family law will have to expand to accommodate their needs. Unfortunately, those changes are slow, and not every alternative family will have the same experience when seeking recognition of parentage. It remains important to take an aggressive approach in child custody cases where there is no biological link to the child in question.
Source: CNN, "Judge gives custody of child to 1 dad and 2 moms", Sarah Jorgensen and Ellie Kaufman, March 14, 2017