Why These Standards?
The Laws Do Not Always Protect Our Families
In our culture, we often turn to courts for resolution. Yet, many states lack a legal framework to recognize our families and may not apply the existing legal rules to resolve disputes about parental responsibilities or dividing property.
Even in those states with a legal framework, there are many novel issues that arise. As a result, many court rulings have disrespected our families and the relationships that a family has nurtured for many years. It can also create a negative precedent of disrespect that will haunt other LGBT families for years to come.
What You Can Do About It
No matter what state law is, our first responsibility is to our children. Whether state law recognizes the relationship between the adults or not, you have the power to agree to maintain the parental relationships your children count on. If you’re fortunate enough to reside in a state where the courts will affirm your custody agreements, it’s important to obtain that legal protection. But if you separate and rely on the courts to determine what is best for your children, rather than coming up with your own negotiated resolution, you could bankrupt yourself financially and emotionally and destroy your child’s relationship with another parent.
How the Standards Can Help
Respecting our own families requires us to honor our relationships with our children and with each other. The overarching aim of these standards is to help families remember the importance of ensuring that we protect the families we create and that our children continue to have meaningful relationships with the people they see as their parents, especially during times of crisis or a break-up.
We believe that, even in the midst of the emotional upheaval that inevitably accompanies the end of the adult relationship, families can do a great deal to resolve their differences in a manner that puts their children first.
We ask all lawyers who work with LGBT families to share these standards with their clients and explain the importance of showing respect for and protecting our families.
We encourage you to accept and use these standards as a guide to making sure that we protect our families however and wherever we can, at the beginning of our relationships when there is love and trust, and at the end of our relationships, when that love and trust has been ruptured. We owe this to our children.