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We’ve Built a Wonderful Family

By Nottage and Ward on January 22, 2018

In 1997, David Weigand filed for full custody of his young son after the boy witnessed his mother being beaten time and time again by his stepfather, who was his mother’s third husband. It got so bad that he called 911 when the stepfather threatened to kill both the boy and his mother. But despite the fact that the boy was living in a volatile environment ruthlessly ruled by a man who was a convicted felon, drug-user, alcoholic, and domestic abuser, and despite the fact that Mr. Weigand had a solid job and did all he could to care for his son, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Weigand when it came to the custody of his son.

David Weigand was a 41-year-old gay man.

Judge Percy Lee Lynchard ordered that, due to the fact that Mr. Weigand was gay, his son was to stay in the custody of his mother and her abusive husband. The judge also ordered that Mr. Weigand’s partner of eight years move out of their jointly-owned home when the boy arrived for visits in the summer.

Heartbroken after the ruling, Mr. Weigand said, “…my son, my partner and I have built a wonderful family together. It makes me sad and deeply worried for my son to know that the Court cares more about the gender of my life partner than about giving my son a good home.”

Five highly-regarded professors from the Psychology Department at Ole Miss submitted what’s known as a “Friend of the Court” brief, in which they said “scientific research provides no support for the belief that lesbians or gay men lack parenting instincts or ability,” and to presume as much “precludes a full evaluation of the best interests of the child.”

Even though the Weigand ruling happened 20 years ago, well before the efforts to legalize same-sex marriage came to fruition, that fact remains that laws discriminating against gay and lesbian parents are still in the books: in individual opinions of the courts, case histories, and even in actual legislation.

There is still a stigma in many circles regarding gay and lesbian parents of children from a previous heterosexual relationship. If you are LGBTQ and find yourself in a legal battle for your child, you should not hesitate to seek legal assistance. At Nottage and Ward, LLP, we specialize in legal parentage issues regarding same-sex couples, and we’d love to sit down with you. We serve the Greater Chicago area, and you can call us at (312) 332-2915. We are here to help.

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