Is Homosexuality a Reason to Deny Child Custody?
Is homosexuality a reason to deny child custody? Well, the simple answer to this question is no, but unfortunately, the “simple answer” is not always the only answer. Confused? This may help to clear things up.
First, take a look at this North Carolina child custody case involving one heterosexual parent and one homosexual parent.
Pulliam v. Smith: While Carol and Fredrick were married they had two sons together. After Carol Pulliam and Fredrick Smith divorced, Carol moved to Kansas and remarried. At that time, Carol and Fredrick were awarded joint custody of their two sons and both sons lived with Fredrick in North Carolina. Three years later, Tim Tipton moved in with Fredrick and Fredrick’s two sons and there was evidence that Tim and Fredrick were involved in a homosexual relationship. Based on the findings, the court concluded that there had been a “substantial change in circumstances” and that it was no longer in the best interest of Carol and Fredrick’s two children to live with Fredrick. Carol was awarded full custody of both children.
Now after hearing that, it may seem like, in the courts opinion, homosexuality IS a reason to deny child custody. However, the court specified that Tim and Fredrick’s homosexual relationship was not the reason that Carol was awarded full custody. Instead, Carol was awarded full custody because there was a “substantial change in circumstances” and there was a “showing of evidence directly linking the change to the welfare of the child.” Subsequent North Carolina cases have upheld this ruling, and have specified that the “substantial change in circumstances” definition includes both positive and negative changes.
So, back to that “simple answer” we were talking about earlier, this means that homosexuality alone cannot be a reason to deny child custody. However, it does mean that a homosexual relationship that begins subsequent to the original custody arrangement is considered a substantial change in circumstances. Therefore, if it is also shown that the homosexual relationship has impacted the welfare of the child, the court could find that the custody arrangements should be changed to ensure the best interest of the child.
To learn more about custody disputes involving same-sex couples, call an attorney at Stiles Law at 704-719-2569.