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Phoenix AZ Family Law Blog

Friday, December 6, 2019

Transgender Children of Divorce

Q: How may having a transgender child impact custody and parenting time?

If you’re getting divorced in Arizona, and you have minor children, the most emotional and difficult part of the divorce generally involves the decisions that impact their welfare. 

In addition to working out child support, the parents need to agree upon child custody and parenting time arrangements. If they fail to agree, the court will decide for them. 

What is legal decision-making and parenting time in Arizona?

In Arizona, visitation – or the time you have physical custody of the child – is legally referred to as parenting time. As its name implies, legal decision making is the right of a parent to make important life decisions for their child with respect to things like education, religion, healthcare, and more.

While the courts generally feel it’s in the best interest of the child that the parents share about equally in legal decision-making and parenting time, parents can attempt to show the court reasons why the other parent should have restricted, or in extreme cases no, decision-making authority over or parenting time with the child. 

Father’s rights attorneys know that very often it’s the fathers who need to fight to claim their paternity and/or parental rights or defend themselves against inaccurate accusations and attempts to terminate their parental rights. But either parent can be wrongly accused by the other.

As one might imagine, having to co-parent children after a divorce-- and continue to cooperate with a former spouse on the important decision-making for the child’s life-- would be difficult in most cases. The relatively recent emergence of public battles over transgender children and their potential transitioning has taken legal decision-making conflicts to a different level. 

Transgender people do not identify with the gender they were born as, but rather identify as the opposite sex. Many transgender people pursue some degree of medical treatment to transition to the sex they identify with, as former Olympian, Bruce Jenner, did when he transitioned to Caitlin. Adults can do what they choose, but it’s more complicated when a child is involved.

Recently, the parents of a seven-year-old boy who reportedly wants to transition to life as a girl have made headlines over their custody battle and opposing positions on this delicate legal decision-making issue. The mother, a pediatrician, reportedly supports the child’s alleged wish and allows her to wear dresses, grow her hair, and calls her by her allegedly preferred female name. The father took to social media claiming his son “opts for his birth name and traditional boy’s clothes” when they are together. The child also has a twin brother who is not transgender. Whether the child should be able to have any puberty-stalling medications or medical procedures in any way related to transitioning is a key issue in this case.

Contact Our Phoenix Divorce Attorney Today

If you have questions regarding legal decision-making or parenting time, or would like to seek a modification regarding same, Cohen Family Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

From our office in Phoenix, we’ve been totally focused on helping clients throughout Arizona navigate their family law issues since 1982. It’s all we do.


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