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Changes to same sex marriage or even domestic partnership laws seem inevitably to be followed by situations that require a closer look at same sex divorce and custody battles. Singer Melissa Etheridge has filed for dissolution of partnership papers from her long-time partner Tammy Lynn Michaels. Tammy Lynn Michaels is now filing papers seeking full physical and legal custody of the twins she gave birth to during her relationship with Etheridge. She is also seeking child and spousal support and would give visitation rights to Etheridge.
According to CBS News, Michaels' request to gain support and full child custody are a response to the dissolution papers filed by Etheridge on July 2 which included request for joint custody and no spousal support. Etheridge and Michaels held a commitment ceremony in 2001 and registered as domestic partners in August 2005.
Due in part to the ceremony they held, Tammy Lynn Michaels is filing for a dissolution of marriage. "Tammy filed a dissolution of marriage, because in her eyes this was a marriage. Both she and Melissa gave it the dignity of a marriage - they had a marital ceremony back in 2001," Michaels' attorney Steve Knowles told People. "If the court system says there was no such thing as a marriage and tells us we have to amend it to a domestic partnership, so be it."
Whether the court sees the relationship to be dissolved a domestic partnership or a marriage, the custody and support issues will remain very similar as they are based on the best interests of the children involved, and not on the status of the parents. As with unmarried parents, the custodial parent will be able to ask for reasonable support from the non-custodial parent.
According to People, both parties cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for their split.