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Same-sex marriage is legal in Maryland - what now?

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There is a battle raging in America today. No, there isn't a foreign invader or an insurgent rebel force. The battle is an ideological and cultural fight. On one side there are proponents of same-sex marriage, arguing for equal treatment before the law. On the other side there are proponents of traditional marriage, which they define as marriage between only one man and one woman. Recently, this issue was being contested on perhaps the last and most crucial battleground, the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court's decisions on two pivotal same-sex marriage cases could prove decisive. However, regardless of the outcome in these cases, same-sex marriage has already been legalized in nine states, including Maryland. As result, family law issues concerning same-sex couples will continue to arrive before the state courts, and these issues could bring a unique kind of dilemma.

If a state allows same-sex marriage, that state must also allow same-sex divorce. Any type of divorce has the potential to involve all sorts of complicated issues, but a same-sex divorce could get especially complicated in one particular area: child custody.

As a recent article pointed out, it is impossible for both members of a same-sex couple to be a child's biological parent. Either one member is and the other isn't, or they both aren't because the child was adopted. Same-sex couples who want their own biological children employ a variety of methods, including surrogacy, artificial insemination or even insemination by a close friend who agrees to give up his parental rights. All of these issues are relatively new to family law courts, and the decisions in many of these cases will be heavily scrutinized in the coming years.

A child custody dispute doesn't have to lead to animosity and prolonged litigation. Oftentimes, the best solution for a couple, even a same-sex couple, is to reach an agreement outside of court based on the best interests of the child. Doing so can ensure that a child feels loved and welcomed in all circumstances, regardless of whether the child is the product of a traditional or same-sex marriage.

Source: ydr.com, "Same-sex marriage can cause legal issues," Teresa McMinn, March 31, 2013

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