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same sex coupleWith more and more states enacting same-sex marriage laws, there will also be same-sex divorces that take place. For many divorcing same-sex couples, child custody will also be a major issue to negotiate.

Many same-sex couples become parents by using either surrogate mothers or sperm donors. For couples who use surrogate mothers, often the surrogate’s eggs are fertilized with one or both of the male couple’s sperm and the baby is then the biological child of one of the spouses. With female couples, often one of the women are impregnated with a sperm from a donor and carries and delivers the baby, making her the biological mother of the child.

A new study has revealed that the biological parentage of children in same-sex relationships has, in the past, played a major role in how the courts are deciding who gets custody of the children. The author of the study, Dr. Abbie Goldberg, found that because there are no definitive laws that protect non-biological parents, they ultimately have no say in whether or not they will be allowed to stay a part of the child’s life that, up until the relationship breakup, they were considered the other parent.

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The Department of Defense has recently announced its plan to extend a range of federal benefits to same-sex spouses of military personnel and civilian defense employees. The changes are being made as a result of the Supreme Court decision that overturned a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In its decision, the court declared that gay couples married in states where it is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive.

KerryThe benefits will be available regardless of sexual orientation, as long as service member-sponsors provide a valid marriage certificate. The Pentagon also said it would allow up to 10 days of leave for couples who are not stationed in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage to a jurisdiction that does allow it. There are currently thirteen states, in addition to the District of Columbia, that allow same-sex marriages.

Some opponents have criticized the Pentagon for allowing special military leave for same-sex couples to marry, saying there are special provisions in law for adoptions, child birth and emergency situations, but not for marriage.  But the Pentagon says this policy will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the department.

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