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Sexual Orientation a Factor in Post-Divorce RulingsThere have been many arguments, and there continues to be an abundance of cases with a very new agenda piling up in divorce courts. When spouses of the same sex are involved, the cases tend to be a little trickier than the cases involving spouses of the opposite sex. It is, however, illegal to discriminate for reasons such as sexual orientation under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses.

Now, what happens when the complications arise after the dissolution of the marriage has been finalized, and agreed upon by parties of the opposite sex? Well, this is not completely unheard of. Take for instance the recent case of Maxwell vs. Maxwell in the state of Kentucky.

Case Logistics
Angela and Robert Maxwell married on October 8, 1994 in Arkansas. From the outside looking in, they were as happy as could be with three children and a nice home. Often times in a marriage, all is not what it seems, and unfortunately, after nearly sixteen years of marriage, the parties separated on September 20, 2010. Robert filed the petition for dissolution of the marriage on September 28, 2010, wherein he petitioned for sole custody of the children. Angela responded to the petition and asked for joint and shared custody of the children.

So, as the case was pending, the courts decided to award joint custody and shared parenting time between the two parents. This order meant that the parenting time alternated the physical custody of the children on a weekly basis.

Important Clause
The order also stated that neither parent would permit a non-family guest to stay overnight during the week that the parent had physical custody of the children.

Several months later, Mr. Maxwell filed a motion to hold Mrs. Maxwell in contempt of court and in violation of the order, as he believed that she had guests stay overnight while the children were in her custody.

Court Ruling
After grueling testimony that implicated Angela Maxwell as an unfit mother due to her overnight guest being a woman whom she had begun a relationship with, it was found that she was in violation of the non family guest clause. As a result, the court awarded Robert Maxwell sole custody of the children, with Angela Maxwell granted visitation under a schedule set by the court.

Angela Maxwell fought the court’s ruling, citing that she was discriminated against due to her sexual orientation. Angela Maxwell also contested that the removal of her children from her care was not done because of any detriment to the children in any way. She won her appeal case, and was granted joint and shared custody, but the case still remains active in the courts.

Thanks to such laws governing the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses, cases such as these are dealt with fairly and justly. However, those like Mrs. Maxwell should never have had to appeal on their own behalf because of their sexual orientation. The best interest of the child is something that Family Law Courts are supposed to hold above all else. The court’s fears of private discrimination and teasing should not be the basis for a change in custody in divorce cases such as these. The reversal of the initial ruling shows us just how far we truly are coming.

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