If you are a same-sex couple and you decide to have a child together, the issue of second parent adoption should be discussed even before your child is born. Only a handful of states recognize same-sex marriage. That means that the majority of our states do not recognize or acknowledge same-sex marriages. Moreover, the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage. Many foreign countries also do not recognize same-sex marriage.
In its publication, Legal Recognition of LGBT Families, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) says:
“In a number of states, a person who is not a legal parent does not have any legal decisionmaking authority over a child, even if that person lives with the child and functions as the child’s parent. For example, in some states, a person who is not a legal parent may not be able to consent to medical care for the child or even have the authority to approve things like school field trips. In addition, a non-legal parent may have no rights to custody or even visitation with a child should something happen to the legal parent, and may have no ability to claim the child as a dependent for health insurance. In the absence of a will stating otherwise, a child generally has no right to inherit from a person who is not a legal parent or relative.”
It is important to note that even if your own state recognizes your marriage, you will be considered a legal stranger to your child (and your spouse) in a state that does not. That is where second parent adoption comes in. It is important to speak with an attorney who understands the law as it applies to same-sex couples and second parent adoption.
Don’t take my word for it … this is also from the NCLR’s publication:
“Regardless of whether a couple is recognized as legally married or in a civil union or comprehensive domestic partnership, NCLR always encourages non-biological and nonadoptive parents to get an adoption or parentage judgment.”
Read our past step-parent and co-parent adoption posts.
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copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.