When it comes to the reasons a couple gets divorced, there are countless possibilities. Some are more common than others, such as infidelity or money problems. Other marriages fail because one of the spouses has an awakening of some kind that takes him or her in a different direction. Gay, lesbian and transgender people who have been married in Texas know what it’s like to decide to live their lives openly at the risk of radically transforming their families. And those who have children may have had to fight harder for child custody based on their sexual orientation.
Transgender people in particular can have a difficult time with divorce and custody issues. In some cases, ex-spouses have sought to prevent transgender parents from seeing their children at all, alleging that even visits would constitute emotional abuse. This is happening in Texas, a largely conservative state where there is no case law on transgender custody.
One such battle is playing out in Collin County, Texas. A transgender woman whose ex-wife now lives in Texas with their three children says that she has good relationships with her children even though she lives in another state, but that she hasn’t seen her youngest child in the three years since she became a woman. She wants to tell her 13-year-old son that his father is now a woman, but her ex-wife is attempting to terminate the father’s parental rights on the grounds of emotional abuse and abandonment. The ex-wife said that allowing visits between the boy and his father, who is now a woman, would be dangerous for him.
Some Texas courts may not be as accommodating to transgender parents as other mothers and fathers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the same rights. While ex-spouses may be resentful toward them, children generally don’t stop loving their parents, no matter what gender they are. The key to handling transgender custody issues is to make sure that children, exes and the judge handling the child custody case realize that the parent-child relationship doesn’t have to change simply because the parent’s body has. Family law attorneys should realize this, too, as they assist transgender parents with their child custody needs.
Source: dallasvoice.com, “Trans woman fights for right to see son,” Anna Waugh, Nov. 16, 2012
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