Saturday, December 22, 2012

Is it necessary for my same-sex domestic partner to adopt our children?

Short answer, Yes.

What is the law?
California law provides that "the rights and obligations of registered domestic partners with respect to a child of either of them shall be the same as those of spouses."

This means: A child born to a registered domestic partners is considered the legal child of BOTH partners, regardless of their biological connection. 

Lesbians who use artificial insemination = BOTH parents can be listed on the birth certificate.

Note: Gay men who use a surrogate = BOTH partners need a court Judgment before they can be listed on the birth certificate.

Why is domestic partner/ second parent adoption a good idea?
Even though we now have legal protection for children born to registered domestic partners, many of my clients are taking the extra step to obtain a court judgment declaring  BOTH partners legal parents. 

We recommend adoption for the following reasons:

  • Adoption is necessary to ensure that your child's legal relationship to BOTH parents will be respected by other states and the federal government. 
  • Should the parties separate, the non-biological parent may need to litigate the issue of parentage.
  • The law is unsettled - there is no guarantee that parentage will be recognized. 
  • When traveling outside of California, if something happens to the biological parent (e.g. death or incapacity), the non-bio parent may not be permitted to make important decisions about the child -- or even be allowed to take custody of the child. There is just no guarantee!
  • Ensure that you are treated as the legal parent for benefits such as inheritance, worker's compensation benefits, social security benefits, employer-provided health insurance, parental leave, hospital visitation and child support.

Who else may want to consider second parent adoption?
Lesbian or gay male couples in which one partner adopted a child while single. Lesbian or gay male couples whose former spouse or parent of the child will agree to terminate their parental rights. 

When should I start the process of adoption?
The earlier the better (as soon as you have a viable fetus) but you can adopt a child at any age.

Where do I begin?
Consulting with a family law attorney experienced with issues specific to GLBT issues. Certain forms will need to be completed properly, filed with the court and a social worker will "investigate" and prepare a report. The parties and their children will also attend an adoption hearing in the county in which they reside. Levine Law Group has successfully completed these adoptions in Contra Costa, Alameda and Solano Counties. If you prefer to represent yourself, we can guide you through the process and help you to complete all necessary pleadings.