Marriage can present its fair share of difficulties. However, unmarried couples, which often times include same-sex couples, also have difficulty when it comes to dealing with issues of child visitation, child custody and adoption. In many states, same-sex couples are not allowed to marry so these issues persist. It is a vicious circle because same-sex couples have always been considered unmarried couples in places where same-sex marriages are illegal.
With that being said, a Michigan couple filed suit in federal court to challenge the Michigan law of 2006 that bans same-sex marriage. The lesbian couple had no intention of challenging the law but when they were denied the ability to adopt their foster children as a couple, a Michigan judge suggested that they challenge the law. If successful, this change could impact the lives of many same-sex couples.
When children are involved, unmarried couples have to take great care to ensure that the children are protected from harm. Unmarried, same-sex couples, legally, have substantial difficulty in dealing with situations involving their children. Because of the lack of security and legal stability of marriage, same-sex couples are more times than not left to fend for themselves.
In defining and determining the parameters of the rights and responsibilities of an unmarried couple with respect to their children, the law may not always be on their side. The reality is that unmarried parents or same-sex parents have a lot of hurdles in doing what is best for their children. When it comes to tasks that should be relatively simple, such as enrolling a child in school or getting insurance, they can actually be quite difficult for same-sex and unmarried couples.
Many states have passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage and have afforded same-sex couples the same rights as other married couples. However, this is not yet the norm and is still highly contested in most states.
Source: The New Civil Rights Movement, “Michigan Couple Take Judge’s Suggestion To Challenge State’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban”, Jean Ann Esselink, Sept. 11, 2012