Berman & Asbel, LLP

Guilty verdict reflects positively for gay parents' rights

One woman's plight to find her daughter has been making headlines across the nation, including Pennsylvania. Reportedly, the woman entered into a civil union in 2000 in Vermont with her same-sex partner, two years later they had a daughter and a year later they split. The court granted custody to the woman's partner, but when the partner refused to adhere to the visitation schedule and it looked as though she was going to lose custody, she fled the country with the child in tow. Her last known whereabouts are Nicaragua.

Reportedly, the fleeing parent became a conservative Christian and renounced homosexuality. She was able to flee the country with the aid of a Virginia pastor. That pastor was recently found guilty on charges surrounding the incident. He could face up to three years behind bars.

According to one civil rights group in support of same-sex couples, this guilty verdict was a resounding message that custody and visitation agreements need to be upheld, regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents.

Although, it is not presently legal for same-sex couples to wed, enter into a civil union or domestic partnership in Pennsylvania, there are still ways to enforce rights as they relate to same-sex relationships. Further, regardless of a parent's sexual orientation, it is critical that if a parent in Pennsylvania wishes to retain custody, that parent adhere to all court orders. Failing to do so could result in losing custody and even criminal charges.

Source: The Washington Post, "Group: Conviction of pastor in Vt. Will help reinforce gay parents' rights," Associated Press, Aug. 15, 2012

  • If a Pennsylvania resident is curious to learn more, visiting our same-sex couples page is a great avenue to do so

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