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Queer StepfamiliesThe Path to Social and Legal Recognition$
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Katie L. Acosta

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479800957

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479800957.001.0001

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Stepping into the Courts

Stepping into the Courts

Sometimes It’s Just Ugly

(p.147) 5 Stepping into the Courts
Queer Stepfamilies

Katie L. Acosta

NYU Press

This chapter highlights respondents’ experiences with homo/bi/transphobia in family courts. Respondent families strategically avoided the courts, but those with struggling plural parenting arrangements sometimes had no choice but to involve the courts in their custody disagreements. Respondents described feeling like the courts were punishing them for being in same-sex relationships. Some described their lawyers’ advising them to conceal their same-sex relationships from the courts to avoid this disapproval. Unlike respondents raising children after a heterosexual relationship dissolved, those raising children after a same-sex relationship dissolved did not report encountering bias or hostility from the judge. Respondents raising children originally from heterosexual relationships had the most traumatic experiences in court, perhaps because having a father in the family complicated judges’ approach to deciding custody.

Keywords:   family law, custody, transphobia, heteronormative

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