Indiana Lesbian Mom Succeeds in Child Custody Fight

In a state that fails to sanction or recognize homosexual marriages, child custody cases can prove an uphill battle.The case of one Muncie mother, chronicled recently in USA Today, was no different.

In the end, though, she was successful, and our Hammond child custody lawyers want you to be confident that such outcomes are attainable – assuming you have a good attorney and you’re dedicated to putting up a fight.

The subject of the southern Indiana case is author Angela Eden, who recently penned the book, “If You Were Me: The Memoir of a Mother Torn Between What’s Right and What’s Easy.” The book takes the reader through the author’s history, which, like so many others, involves a long period spent burying the secrets of her sexuality and remaining in the closet, door firmly closed. She married a man and had children.

But in the end, her sexuality was something she ultimately couldn’t deny. She filed for divorce. Subsequently, she met, fell in love and moved in with a woman.

Her ex-husband then sought to modify custody orders by suing for sole custody of the children, demanding that they be removed immediately from her home on the basis that she was a lesbian. The husband argued that the living arrangement was harmful for the two children because they weren’t married. Of course, under Indiana law, they could not marry, and even if they did so in another state, Indiana courts wouldn’t recognize the union.

Even her lawyer doubted whether she would be successful in getting custody. His best advise, he said, was to ask her partner to move out of their home.

The primary issue in the case was not whether she was a fit mother, but focused instead on her sexuality. Her own sister testified against her, telling her in open court that she would burn in hell for her sins.

It wasn’t until a case worker completed a months-long, neutral home study that Eden’s case got a break. The case worker highlighted all of the attributes that made her a good mother, and then underscored the fact that homosexuality shouldn’t be a factor in child custody cases. She underlined that last part.

It was on this basis that the judge awarded her custody.

Of course, it’s not a decision that everyone agrees with. But it’s in the favor of homosexual couples that societal perceptions are shifting rapidly. A recent article in the Washington Post detailed how gay parenting has normalized the idea of gay marriage, particularly among younger generations.

Of course, courts aren’t always on the cutting edge of societal norms, which is why homosexual parents will continue to require a strong advocate in these custody cases.

Encouragingly, Indiana has been more progressive than others, at least historically. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled way back in 1981 that homosexuality alone is not cause to find a parent unfit. Thirteen years later, that same court rejected restrictions proposed on the activities of a lesbian mother and her partner. And then in 2002, the same court overturned a measure that would have prohibited unrelated, same-sex individuals from staying overnight in the custodial parent’s home.

These cases set a strong precedent.

Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary, Hammond and Calumet City. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:
Lesbian mom had tough fight for custody, June 2, 2013, By Dana Hunsinger Benbow, The Indianapolis Star
More Blog Entries:
Making Indiana Divorce Tougher Would Do More Harm Than Good, May 15, 2013, Hammond Child Custody Lawyer Blog

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