Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Same sex couples in the Family Court

A fear of many LGBT people in ending up in the Family Court is being judged to be different, and being the subject to the whims of homophobic judges and lawyers.

The reality is different. Although there is discrimination in some aspects of family law- the inability to get married or to adopt, in Family Court or Federal Circuit Court cases these is no active discrimination from judges or the law. Cases are decided as they should be- on their merits. It has probably helped that several gay and lesbian judges have been appointed, and that many woman have been appointed- so that in many ways old mindsets have gone.

Legal reforms have changed dynamics of cases- and thinking. For example- the recognition of the non-biological mother as a parent was a huge advance for the recognition of the role of these women. As a parent her role will hopefully be recognised and cherished.

More and more, sadly, there are fights between gay or lesbian couples heading to court, or the train wreck cases of lesbian couples arguing with their gay sperm donors about children. The cases are usually those of other warring couples: about money and kids, and domestic violence. Some of the fine tuning in a case might be different- but the substance is the same: who made the financial and non-financial contributions, who has greater future needs, what is in the best interests of the child.

If going down the family law path, get good legal representation which is LGBTI friendly, and if needed consider going to a community legal service like the LGBTI Legal Service in Brisbane for free legal advice each Wednesday night. Family lawyers including me volunteer there to help those in need.

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