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Changing laws mean questions on guardianship, other issues

Many Americans believe that important decisions regarding social issues should be left for each state to decide. With regard to same-sex marriage, that has been the case as homosexual couples have sought the ability to be married in the same manner as heterosexual couples. In Arkansas, voters decided in 2004 to define marriage as between one man and one woman. However, almost ten years later, the U.S. Supreme Court supported gay marriage.

As a result, many in Arkansas and elsewhere are understandably confused when it comes to family law issues and their effects on one’s own family. For example, some gays or lesbian residents may wonder if they are able to become the guardians of minor children in their families. In Arkansas, guardianships are usually for children whose biological parents are no longer able to adequately care for them. Guardians of minor children are often grandparents, although they can be other close relatives. Regarding the would-be guardian himself or herself, the courts will generally decide if that person’s care is in the child’s best interest, regardless of that person’s sexual orientation.

Recently, 20 same-sex couples in Arkansas filed a lawsuit against the state following the federal court’s summer ruling. Among these couples is one man who mentioned that he has faith in the progress of the law, especially since he has, in the past, served as a guardian over several teenagers. The man did note, though, that the system tends to work slowly.

Navigating family law legal issues is tricky for everyone in society, but especially for those whose other legal statuses may appear to be in limbo. Contacting an experienced and local family law attorney is often the best place to start when adapting a family to new legal situations, especially in light of changing state and federal laws.

Source: THV11, “Judge hears lawsuit to lift same-sex marriage ban,” Dec. 12, 2013

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