Ask the Lawyer: I separated from my husband and came out as a lesbian – could I lose my kids?
PinkNews brings you the latest in a series of features which sees your real questions answered by leading lawyers at Simpson Millar.
The question comes from a woman who has come out as a lesbian after separating from her husband, and who is concerned that it may affect her divorce and custody of her children.
She asks: “I married my husband 10 years ago and we have three children. We are now separating. Over the past year, I have realised that I am a lesbian and I have started to date a woman. What difference will this make in my divorce? Could my husband gain custody of our children and prevent me from caring for them? I am very worried that he could hold it against me that I am gay.”
A Simpson Millar lawyer answers, saying: “The needs of the children are always the central focus when arrangements for their care are made after their parents separate. Regardless of whether you or your husband have heterosexual or same-sex relationships going forward, the most important thing is the children’s best interests.
“The main issue for both of you as parents is whether you can meet your children’s emotional and physical needs going forwards.
A good starting point would be to see whether you and your husband can agree on arrangements for your children. If you have older children, their wishes and feelings may also be taken into account. Mediation is a really constructive way of doing this, and tends to take place in a neutral environment.
“If you can’t come to an agreement, then you may need our help – speak to one of our Family Law experts about how they can support you.
“The judge will most likely take a practical view on what is best for the children, also taking into account how their needs are met and what their wishes and feelings are. The judge will also want to know about your new relationship, and in particular how you have explained your relationship to your children and what involvement your new partner has in their lives. This will apply to your husband too.
“The good news is that social attitudes to same-sex relationships have evolved and nowadays children are very accepting and understanding of it. Understandably, your children might feel anxious when either you or your husband start new relationships, which is why how you explain it to them and gradually introduce the concept and your new partner is important.
What is key is that they understand that they are still loved, and that they remain your priority and that your new partner supports you and is now there to support them too.
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“If you’d like to speak to one of Simpson Millar’s Family Law experts about this in more depth, feel free to get in touch with us on 0800 260 5005 or click here to request a call-back.
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Unfortunately, we will not be able to answer all questions that are sent in and Simpson Millar is only able to give advice that relates to the law in England and Wales.
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