Throughout the course of a marriage, people change, but few things can be as jarring as when a spouse comes out and declares their homosexuality.
“While the acceptance of gay and lesbian rights in Oregon has rightly been a cause for celebration, one of the by-products of this change is that more and more children in marriages where one parent comes out are in a custody dispute,” says Portland attorney Deanna Jensen, who’s firm frequently takes cases involving LGBT custody issues.
With the passage of a series of laws at the state and federal level, child custody issues should be treated just as they are in heterosexual divorce proceedings. However, despite the letter of the law, when one of the parties in a marriage dissolution comes out as gay, there’s an increased likelihood that that person may experience some form of bias.
“Although for several years now our Oregon courts have been very even-handed and often sympathetic when dealing with the LGBT community, it is not uncommon for a party and/or an attorney to present the case involving a parent who has come out with bias and derision. This makes the dissolution process very emotionally difficult, leads to more litigation, and is often more costly for the family,” adds Jensen.
If you are concerned that you are experiencing bias because you have come out as gay in a heterosexual marriage, it’s best to consult a Portland attorney who has experience in LGBT custody issues. You can get an attorney referral from the National Center for Lesbian Rights at www.nclrights.org or research possibilities on any number of other specialized data bases.