Utah marriage rights issue complicates child custody arrangements

When most people get married in Utah and other states around the country, they do so assuming that their marriage is legal and legally binding. Thousands of unions have faced controversy and serious legal complications in recent years as individual states, as well as the federal government, have addressed the potential legalization of same-sex marriage. Utah is one such state that is currently in the midst of deciding where it stands on the issue, while more than 1,000 married couples wait to see how that decision may affect their families and child custody arrangements.

Families and equal rights activists across the state of Utah and the entire country are hopeful that same-sex marriage will once again be legal in the state. For now, however, one couple is left to question how the law would account for their family and child custody arrangements in the event their relationship ended. One partner in the relationship does not currently have legal custody of the couple’s son since their marriage is not recognized in Utah. If same-sex marriage were legalized in the state, he would have the same custody rights as his partner.

During the short period of time that same-sex marriage was legal in the state of Utah, 1,300 couples got married. The legitimacy of those marriages is being questioned by the state, however, since Governor Gary Herbert recently took action to prohibit them from being recognized as legal. And while the state continues to debate the issue, the federal government has declared that Utah same-sex marriages are still legal on the federal level.

The confusion between the federal and state legalization of same-sex marriage leaves countless families to question what legal rights and recourse they actually have.

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