Lesbian couples who have children after the initiation of the relationship are more likely to share custody after the relationship ends if they are allowed to jointly share custody, according to a new study by the Williams Institute.
The lesbian couples who were allowed to co-adopt their children also stayed together, on average, four years longer. However, there was no reported difference in the happiness or well-being of the children who were jointly adopted and those who were adopted by only one partner.
The study, which was a first of its kind, studied 40 separated lesbian couples and their 17-year old adolescents. It was published in the journal National Council on Family Relations.
The study also indicated that children who were jointly adopted by two mothers reported a much higher closeness to both parents.
More than 80 percent of the couples had separated before their relationships were recognized by the state where they lived, such as a civil union, marriage or other form of domestic partnership.
Only 19 states and Washington D.C. have laws or court decisions clearly allowing co-parent adoptions by gay couples. Same-sex couples face uncertainty in 25 states about whether they can co-adopt, and in six states such adoptions are effectively banned.
Utah bans gay couples from adopting by prohibiting all second-parent adoptions and only allowing married couples to legally adopt. Since gay marriage is not recognized in Utah, gay couples cannot jointly adopt in the state. Despite recent efforts to overturn this law in the Legislature, there has been very little headway.