Homophobic Parent: The relevance in the determination and modification of child custody.

Despite the significant progress of the LGBTQ movement over the last several decades homophobia is alive and well in America. I was recently listening to a call-in advice podcast. The caller, a mother of a minor child who resided outside of Minnesota, presented a troubling question: My son’s father is extremely homophobic and I suspect, although I cannot confirm, my son is gay, what can I do?

The caller further stated she had concerns regarding the physical well-being of the child should the father learn of the child’s sexuality during the extended summer visitation. She went on to say her former husband had previously made statements, such as: “I would beat the gay out of any child of mine.”  She continued to say, she suspected her son is gay and was fearful for his well-being. She concluded her call seeking advice on how to protect her child. The radio show host ultimately suggested the caller contact a family law attorney in her state.

In Minnesota, prejudice in any form, is not an expressly enumerated factor in the determination or modification of child custody; however, a court would be concerned if a parent’s prejudice was expressed as physical violence towards a child.

The court should be made aware of such a prejudice if the child’s emotional health or development is put at risk.  To date, four states have banned the practice of conversion or reparative therapy for minor patients. These states have justified the ban by citing the significantly higher depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide rates of individuals who have undergone such programs.

An unfortunate truth exists, a parent is not required to be tolerant, accepting, or understanding.  Yet, when a parent places a child’s physical or emotional health or development at risk the courts provide an avenue of addressing such behavior. Ultimately, the custody decision would be determined by the facts specific to the case. If you find yourself in a similar situation, be proactive, contact Mundahl Law today to schedule a consultation with our experienced family law attorneys. We care about your family.

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