Custody Issues in "Non-Traditional" Families

One of the biggest legal cornerstones of the 21st century is the recognition of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples. This movement has brought to the surface issues of custody and visitation rights of minor children of "non-traditional" families and how the law applies to them. Whether it's unwed relationships, marriages, or domestic partnerships--no matter the sexual orientation--there exist many solutions to such legal matters using different interpretations of already existing laws.


For example, under California's Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) (Family Code Section 7633), pre-birth orders can:


1) Allocate authority for medical decisions starting with birth,


2) Ensure that both parents have a chance to hold the baby and enjoy the opportunity for bonding,


3) Provide a plan for the baby's care or release from the hospital.


Resolutions can also be given in cases of prematurity or other serious medical problems. These pre-birth custody and visitation orders apply to all kinds of family relations, from gay or lesbian partnerships and marriages, to unwed couples, to surrogacy arrangements.


It is a well-known fact that human relationships do not always end up smoothly and can easily change into nasty relations. The greatest fear is exposing custody battles to young children that affect not only their present life but also their future. An early balance of custody and visitation rights can prevent such fuming conflicts over children that find themselves in the middle of nasty separations. Just like in matters of health, the same applies to law: early prevention protects against future financially and emotionally draining battles.