What’s Best for Your Kids? Easing Your Children Through Separation or Divorce from a Gay Spouse

Separation and divorce are always hard and can become complicated after one spouse comes out of the closet. As the straight spouse, you may feel shocked, hurt, angry and confused. While no two situations are the same, keep in mind that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people come out after they marry, and many couples in this situation have children. While your pain and anger will hopefully lessen over time, the steps you take concerning your children will have long-term effects, so sustaining your and your spouse's relationships with your children should be a primary goal.

When deciding what’s best for your family, remember that:

  • Your spouse is the same parent. There is no reason to believe that your spouse will care for your children any less or differently after coming out.
  • Many good parents are gay. Children raised by LGBT parents are as healthy, secure and happy as children raised by straight parents. Millions of children nationwide have lesbian or gay parents.
  • Your children need stable parental relationships. Your children need to continue relationships with both parents to help them adjust to your separation. Maintain continuity for your children – don’t abruptly change or end visits – especially in times of change. When things get rough, consider the situation from the perspective of your children.
  • Children need comfort through separations. Let your children know that the separation or divorce is not their fault. Make sure that they know they are not loved any less and are not losing a parent, even though you and your spouse will not be living together.
  • Your spouse may have come out only to you. Your spouse may not be ready to tell others. Don’t out your spouse. If possible, deicde together what you are both comfortable telling other people about why your relationship is ending.
  • You can try to work things out. You can work together, and with a mediator if necessary, to create a positive parenting plan.
  • You want to do the right thing. When you’re ready to make child custody and visitation decisions, don’t use sexual orientation against your spouse – it doesn’t affect parenting ability. Courts use a child-centered approach that looks at the best interests of the child – and you should too.
  • You are setting an example. You will help your children to accept change by modeling respect and acceptance for your spouse.
  • There’s help if you need it. You can get support from others living through similar situations. Find a local group or talk with friends and family. The Straight Spouse Network (www.ssnetwk.org) is a great resource.

These tips are courtesy of the Straight Spouse Network and Lambda Legal. The Straight Spouse Network is an international support network of heterosexual spouses or partners, current or former of GLBT mates. Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people and people with HIV/AIDS through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

For more information, visit:




COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere)
This organization provides resources, newsletters, pen pals and events for children of LGBT parents.

Families Like Mine
Families Like Mine is dedicated to “to decreasing isolation for people who have parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), and bringing voice to the experiences of the families.


The following are books for kids who are dealing with a parent coming out of the closet:

Is Your Family Like Mine?
By Lois Abramchik

How Would You Feel If Your Dad Was Gay?
By Ann Heron

Heather Has Two Mommies
By Leslea Newman
Families – A Coloring Book
By Michael Willhoite