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Do LBGTQ parents in Georgia have child custody rights?

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LBGTQ parents who are divorcing in Georgia may face different circumstances for child custody than traditional couples, which could make even a non-contested divorce difficult. While a 2015 bill offered laws to guide same-sex divorcing couples, it did not mention parenting laws, which left one spouse in the marriage with few visitation or custody rights.

If you are a same-sex parent in the state, you may enjoy more rights in the future, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a new bill is now in effect that supports gay and lesbian parents.

A lack of past rights

As recently as 2018, you had few rights after a divorce and unless you legally adopted a child or children before or during the marriage, you virtually no legal claim to custody or visitation rights. As such, once the divorce finalized, you had little to no legal recourse to gain those rights. Recently, those laws changed.

House bill 543

In 2019, the Georgia governor changed the lives of Georgian same-sex couples when he signed house bill 543 into law. This bill states that under Georgia law, same-sex parents would have the same rights as a father or step-parent without having legally adopted the children and can petition the court for visitation rights if they can prove they play an important and supportive role in those children’s lives. This bill, which received little attention at the outset, now gives you a legal path for visitation and custody rights.

This bill also supports the rights of non-family members who have raised a child who is not theirs. However, its positive impact on Georgia’s LBGTQ parental community may resonate for years to come.

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