Child Custody in Same Sex Marriages

sperm_donor-300x199In New Jersey, it was recently decided in court that sperm donors could earn visitation rights for the children born from their donation. This affects same sex marriages a great deal. It is now typical for donors to be able see children even if it was agreed before the birth that the couple would be the only parents of the child. Legally, it can now be demanded to be able to see the child conceived using your genetic material. Often, the donor will pay some amount of child support in exchange for visitation rights. In the specific case mentioned above, it was determined the donor would pay $83 per week to the family.

Same Sex Marriage in New Jersey

In 2013, same sex marriage became legal in New Jersey. Prior to this, civil unions were allowed that were legally equivalent to married couples. Civil unions received the same benefits including divorce rights, child custody, alimony, spousal support, division of property, annulments, filing joint taxes, and receiving the property of a deceased partner without a will. The main restriction on same sex couples was that their union was not recognized outside the state, meaning they were not given benefit outside the area that granted them to the domestic partnership.

As it stands now, however, same sex couples have all the rights and privileges of any married couple and no longer must go through civil unions. Their marriages are recognized in all states that have adopted gay marriages, allowing some movements around the country to be made as a couple.

Child Custody in Same Sex Marriages

Child custody laws are uniform throughout all marriages. If both parents are the legal guardians, a judge will look over the case and decide what is best for the child. Each parent will make a case and the overall stability, financial security, and familiarity with the child will be considered before a decision is made.

If only one parent is the legal guardian, the way things are handled changes between states. In many states, second parents have no chance to earn custody. Often, even visitation is off the table. It is essentially up to the primary guardian to grant these things to the second parent. This works the same in same sex marriages and heterosexual unions.


In summation, the rights of same sex marriages are a steadily evolving, steadily moving in an upward climb. Where there were once civil unions, now there are complete marriages. Everything from child custody to taxes are treated the same as marriages involving different sexes. There are, however, questions that have not been raised. Donors that birth children but have no part in raising them is not an issue the courts have addressed until recently. The climate around gay marriage is a shifting one that will not settle until all of these loose ends have been dealt with legally. It is important to stay in formed on the ongoing changes and retractions in the marriage laws.