Over the past decade or so, issues related to gender-based self-identification have been more broadly explored by the media and popular culture. As a result, these issues have become increasingly addressed in a variety of ways in workplaces, classrooms, medical facilities, legislatures, courtrooms, and homes all across the country in ways that would have been considered taboo not so long ago. It is now clear that grappling with these concerns can be challenging for people of all ages, including minor children, teens, and their parents.
If you are concerned about your child's best interests in this regard and/or how your co-parent is dealing with your child's needs or how they're likely to respond to your child's self-identification, discuss your case with our client-focused Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888-535-3686 or by contacting our attorneys online. The stakes for your child's well-being are high, and if you need assistance, we are here to help.
Who Needs to Know?
If you share custody with your ex, you likely assume that each of you is obligated to inform the other when something significant affects your child's well-being. After all, both legal and physical custody rights are grounded in each parent's rights to make certain decisions – or, at least, to weigh in – concerning their child's upbringing. Yet, there may be times when the courts would support one parent's silence concerning the other's knowledge of a particular situation. For example, if your child recently revealed to you that they now identify as gender non-conforming and that they don't feel safe telling your ex, you may be on relatively solid ground if you choose to keep this information from your co-parent.
What Does the Law Say?
Family law courts are primarily concerned with upholding the best interests of minor children whose parents are no longer together. Yes, it is important that the rights of both of a child's fit parents are respected. But, as the courts have confirmed and reaffirmed time and again, the rights of parents with respect to their children are not “immutable.” They are restricted, at times, in favor of compelling government interests and/or their child's best interests.
For example, a New Jersey Superior Court judge recently ruled that school district policies requiring parents to be notified if a student requests a gender identification change cannot be enforced. In his ruling, the judge both expressed concerns about the discriminatory nature of the policy and the particular vulnerability of “transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary youth.” Although the question of who needs to be notified when a minor's gender self-identification shifts isn't yet settled law, it's likely that courts will largely continue to favor the interests of vulnerable youth over those of parents desiring notification in both educational and custody contexts.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you're concerned about your child's well-being to the extent that you feel that it would be in their best interests if you challenged your existing child custody order and/or the terms of your parenting plan, know that the determined Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm is here to assist you in pursuing your child's best interests.
The courts take the rights of parents to guide and care for their children seriously, but they are primarily concerned with facilitating the best interests of minors who cannot legally advocate for themselves. If you need the court to reevaluate what is happening with your family, connect with our Family Law Team today to discuss your case and receive personalized feedback. You can either call 888-535-3686 or reach out online to get started. We look forward to learning about your child's needs.