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Courts Are Beginning To Recognize The New Definition Of Family

The definition of "family" has transformed drastically over the course of the last 20 years. Family dynamics once thought of as fringe or even deviant behavioral experiments by others, are now considered mainstream and acceptable by the vast majority of the American population. Take for example the advances that same sex couples have been able to make in terms of their civil rights and liberties through the United States Supreme Court in recent years.

This blog post will discuss some of the ways the new definition of family has begun to affect family law.

Extending to the workplace

Many employers have also begun to amend their policies to reflect the evolution of the country as it pertains to same sex couples. Employers have begun to extend their health and dental insurance benefits to the domestic partners of their employees, and many have amended their policies to allow their employees time off to care for their domestic partners during an illness, as well as using bereavement days to attend the funerals of relatives of domestic partners.

In terms of the advancements made regarding the changing family dynamic across the country, most courts have been relatively progressive on decisions pertaining to the parental rights of same sex couples. Many advocates believe if one party in a same sex relationship has children, and those children are cared for by both parties, the childless party should be allowed to maintain a relationship with the children even if the couple's relationship has ended. A recent decision rendered in New York, for example, has given life to the debate regarding this issue, and many are hoping it will help to set a precedent for courts in Florida and all over the country.

Even in the most conservative states such as Oklahoma and South Carolina, de facto parents are permitted to ask for visitation rights and custody. In most states, the expansion of what defines a parent now includes adoptive guardians and caretakers who are not related to the children in question, giving hope to people who have been denied the right to visit the children they have nurtured and cared for when their relationships ended with their parent.

The recognition of the diversity of the family dynamic by the highest courts is beginning to reverse an acrimonious precedent that has separated parents from their children. Anytime a relationship dissolves and there are children involved, it is going to have a significant impact on all parties involved. Although systems and laws continue to change in regards to how same sex couples are viewed, there are still a number of individuals that maintain their personal opinions, prejudices and biases.

Children explaining the new face of the family

Children must often face the dynamics of their family life at school and many of them will choose to internalize their feelings regarding their interactions with schoolmates, rather than talk about them. Dealing with the separation of two parental figures can be devastating to children under traditional circumstances, but even more damaging when their parents are of the same gender.

Children will process the dissolution of their family unit by going through the five stages of grief, which is normal, however the effects of a traumatic separation of a child from a parental figure can negatively impact their development, have profound effects on future relationships and can have devastating and long term psychological effects. Children who are separated from one of their parental figures tend to develop low self-esteems and are generally distrustful of others.

Other psychological effects include but are not limited to:

  • Inadequate social skills
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Socio-moral immaturity
  • Language delays
  • Cognitive delays
  • Bedwetting and other regressive disorders

Depending on the reason for the breakup of the two parental figures, it may be difficult for one party to move past their hurt and anger, but parties must also come to a reasonable consensus on the best interest of the children involved. Parents or caretakers who are currently in a situation where they have been separated from the children in their lives should not be timid about seeking visitation or even custody through a court of law.

Talk to an experienced Florida family law attorney about your options

A Florida family law attorney with experience handling these types of cases would be able to review all of the elements of their client's situation and combine them as a guide through the divorce or child custody process. The highest courts are beginning to acknowledging that persons who have taken on the role of a parent - whether they are biological or adoptive - is a meaningful step towards keeping the relationships between parental figures and the children they love intact.

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