Although same sex marriage has been legalized throughout the United States, gay couples are still finding themselves facing a variety of laws across the country that dictate who can and can’t be a parent in their marriage. Many of these complications and uncertainties revolve around issues that straight couples don’t have to think about when they get married or divorced.
In some states, families of same sex marriages are completely respected and protected, while other states might not consider a gay spouse’s parental rights. This can be a major obstacle to overcome in divorce and adoption cases that cross state lines.
Adoption is an area of law that can be complicated and even contradictory for gay couples. States like Maryland and Massachusetts have strict laws prohibiting discrimination based on a couple’s sexual orientation. South Dakota has religious exemption laws for adoption which give agencies the right to refuse placing children with gay couples if it violates the groups’ religious beliefs.
Because there can be a complex layer of laws that both help and restrict gay families, custody issues can be quite complicated for gay parents. Take Alice Eisenberg and Anna Wolk, a couple from Brooklyn who decided to get pregnant together. Although Ms. Eisenberg carried the child, Ms. Wolk was an equal partner in the process every step of the way. The couple decided to marry for legal reasons before their daughter was born. Both Ms. Eisenberg and Ms. Wolk’s names are on the child’s certificate.
Despite their careful planning, the couple had to do a second-parent adoption. This process varies, and is not even available in all states. Instead, some states offer stepparent adoptions to gay parents. Second-parent adoption is a lengthy and complicated process that requires the adopting parent to be fingerprinted and provide every address they have ever lived at. The process also requires a social worker to visit the home and observe the couple. Altogether, second-parent adoption can cost a parent thousands of dollars.
Ms. Eisenberg had the following to say about the ordeal of adopting a child as a gay parent, “We won marriage, and people thought the fight was over. But having to adopt your own child feels way more invasive, upsetting, disturbing.”
Charlotte Family Law Attorneys
Our legal team at Rech Law, P.C. is committed to serving same sex couples in Charlotte and the surrounding communities. We have been providing clients with caring, capable, and comprehensive family law services since 2010, and we are prepared to put our skills and experienced to work for you today. If you have more questions about the issues you might face as a same sex couple, give us a call and we’ll discuss the details of your situation.