Same Sex Couples and Child Custody

Posted on December 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

Many same-sex couples choose to start families by having or adopting children. In the event the relationship between partners ends, child custody must be determined as with heterosexual relationships. These situations can be complex especially when one parent is the child’s biological parent and the other is not. Each state has individual laws regarding same-sex adoption so it is important to know your state’s laws and the best way to protect your parental status in your same-sex relationship.

In order to protect your parental rights to a child, in a same-sex relationship, you should make sure you are a “legal parent.” A legal parent has a duty to provide for a child, the right to live with the child (full or part-time) and the right to make decisions on his/her behalf. In some states, same-sex couples are permitted to jointly adopt a child therefore they both become legal parents. In cases where one partner is the biological parent, the biological parent automatically becomes the parent. In lesbian partnerships, often one partner is the biological mother and carries the child, making her the legal parent. In gay men partnerships, one partner may be the sperm donor (the child carried by a surrogate) making him the biological or parent. Many states allow the non-biological same-sex partner to adopt the child through the second-parent or step-parent adoption process. The second-parent adoption process allows the same-sex partner to also claim the parent role.

When same-sex relationships end and children are involved, often the courts get involved to determine custody arrangements. If both parents are legally the parents, most courts will handle child custody in the same way they would with a heterosexual relationship. The non-biological parent, who has a legal relationship with the child, will have rights similar to those of a father in a heterosexual relationship. In some cases, the non-biological parent is awarded custody because it is in the best interest of the child. Problems with custody can arise if only one partner is a legal parent. Many courts will say that the non-legal parent has few if any rights to the child in the case of separation. In some cases, the courts have allowed the legal or biological parent to deny the non-legal parent contact with the child. Some more progressive courts will look beyond the legal parental status to examine the history and relationship formed between the child and partner, when determining child custody.

In a few states, same-sex partner adoption is prohibited. It may not be possible for a non-biological parent to gain full parental status. If you live in a state where you are not permitted to adopt your partner’s biological child, you should attempt to protect yourself and your parental role in the event of separation down the road. One way to do this is by establishing a parenting agreement. This agreement will not necessarily stand up in court, but may help you work with your partner in the case of separation. A parenting agreement usually establishes that although only one partner is the legal parent, you both consider yourself equal parents and assume the responsibilities associated with your parental roles. It should include that you intend to co-parent even if the relationship comes to an end. It would be advantageous to also include information about financial responsibility and visitation/custody agreements in case of separation. This parenting agreement can be used in court as ammunition to support a non-legal parent’s quest for child custody/visitation.

If you would like more information about your state’s laws and same-sex couple adoption, you should contact a family law attorney. An experienced family law attorney can inform you of your state’s laws on same-sex adoption and the best way to protect yourself in your same-sex parenting relationship.

Why Many Women Don’t Think About Sex

Posted on December 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

Laverne wrote the following to me:

“I have never had thoughts that picture me making love with my husband – or anyone else for that matter. I imagine connection, fun and feelings of love but never making love. If it was left up to me sex would never be on the agenda, just because it would never occur to me to make love. I know when my husband would like to make love, and I enjoy it when I do make love, but it would never cross my mind if he didn’t initiate. I feel I am missing being aware and connected to a part of me. Surely a reasonably balanced and mostly connected human being should have some sort of sex drive. Your thoughts and insights would be really appreciated. Thank you.”

Laverne is not alone in her experience. I hear this same thing from many of my women clients.

However, many women do think about romance, which can lead to sex. Women tend to think more about the process of intimacy – of fun, connection, and sharing feelings of love – rather than about the result. In fact, for many women focusing on the result is a turnoff.

The fact that Laverne can enjoy sex when her husband initiates it indicates that there is nothing wrong with her sexuality. It’s just that it’s not separate from her feelings of love and connection. It doesn’t occur to her to make love because her sexuality mostly emerges from her emotional connection with her husband. Some women, but not all, do experience a biological push toward sex during their ovulation. But even then, for most women, it needs to be in the context of emotional intimacy.

And herein lies the major difference between men and women – testosterone. While some women have higher than normal testosterone levels, most don’t, which means that most women are not biologically driven regarding having sex. Not so for most men. Testosterone creates the biological sex drive in men, while love, intimacy and romance often lead to women feeling sexual.

It would be helpful for our relationships if we all could accept that women who don’t think about having sex are generally not imbalanced or disconnected from their bodies.

What would happen in relationships if both men and women accepted that men are often more biologically driven and women are often more emotionally driven? Perhaps this could lead to deep appreciation for each other. There is truly nothing wrong with men for generally being more biologically driven than women, and there is nothing wrong with women for generally being more emotionally driven then many men. (Of course, none of this is always true, as some women are more biologically driven than their man, and some men are more emotionally driven then their woman. And these differences can just as easily show up in same-sex relationships).

If Laverne stops judging herself for not thinking about sex, and values what she contributes to their relationship, then perhaps she can also value her husband for his biology and for being the one to initiate sex. If her husband completely embraces his biology, perhaps he can fully appreciate what Laverne brings to the relationship regarding fun, love and connection. And he might be more wiling to tap into his ability to be romantic once he accepts this as a vital part of their relationship. By valuing themselves and each other for what they each bring to their sexual relationship, their differences can be a blessing for them rather than creating conflict.

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Just Sex Vs. True Love

Posted on December 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

Opinions vary greatly on the topic of the difference between true love versus just sex relationships. How do you know when the physical sensations and desires you are feeling are the result of being in love with someone and not just the result of being attracted to them sexually? Which is better – just sex relationships for the sake of sex or true love that leads to a sexual encounter?

Is It Just Lust or Is It Just Pleasure?

The difference between lust and pleasure is so thin that it is nearly non-existent. Lust refers to the existence of a strong sexual desire, craving, or longing. Its presence in the sexual relationship can lead to passionate love making. Lust encompasses every aspect of the sexual experience starting with the desire to have sex with a specific person, even if this individual is someone you have just met, and ending with the denouement or final climax.

When you have sex for pleasure, it is usually just a means to an end – having sex to achieve an orgasm. It is more likely to occur as a random encounter with no particular partner in mind.

Pros and Cons of Just Sex Relationships

The basic premise of just having sex rather than being in a committed relationship based on love is the ability to avoid all emotional entanglement. Casual sex, particularly as experienced in a series of one night stands, avoids the need to form an emotional attachment, pretend to lust your partner, feel guilty over not satisfying the sexual needs of your temporary lover, or practice a monogamous relationship. Plus, anyone who is having casual sex rather than participating in a relationship based on true love can avoid having to answer to someone else, call home when running late, or buy gifts for birthdays or anniversaries. This is a “winning” situation for anyone who simply isn’t ready to settle down with one individual.

Casual sex, as experienced in the friends-with-benefits scenario is a bit trickier since some type of emotional bond clearly exists. Keeping the relationship strictly on a friendship level is only possible when neither participant begins to fall in love with the other half of the equation. This kind of it’s-just-sex relationship can blow up on a person unexpectedly, especially if a pregnancy occurs. It can lead to the dissolution of the friendship, leaving you feeling lonelier than ever.

When an individual dabbles in casual sex only, avoiding true love at every turn, it really is a costly experience when it goes on for too long. If you never form an emotional commitment, then you can wind up living the rest of your days out alone. You never have anyone to invite as a guest to important functions, and you might find your desirability as a lover begins to fade as your hair thins, skin wrinkles, and tummy sags. This scenario might have you searching for sex in all the wrong places, simply because the “right” places are no longer suitable for a person of your age or stature.

Pros and Cons of a Relationship Based on True Love

True love is often defined as the feelings held between two people who put the partner’s well being first and foremost. It refers to the ability to love someone no matter what they say or do. True love is everything good and nothing bad. A relationship based on true love includes a healthy dose of patience, kindness, loyalty, caring, and compromise, distinguishing it from lust, a feeling which disappears until the next time that you become sexually aroused by your partner. True love involves a lasting bond that continues to grow, whereas lust dissipates the moment that sexual climax is fully reached.

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