The New York Times recently ran an article highlighting the myriad of legal obstacles gay couples face in raising a family together.
For example, although many states allow a second mother to be listed on a child’s birth certificate, when a same sex married couple travels to a state that does not recognize their union, the relationship established by the child’s birth certificate may not be recognized (despite the general principle that state courts give full faith and credit to other states’ judgments).
This failure to recognize the same sex parent-child relationship can have widespread consequences. For example, an unrecognized parent may not have authority to make medical or other decisions for the child, and in the event of the legally recognized parent’s death, the other spouse would not necessarily be granted guardianship of the child.
Adoption is one solution to creating a legal tie between the parents and child that may hold to states that do not accept a couples’ marriage. New York allows same sex couples to adopt jointly even if they are unmarried, and prohibits the rejection of prospective adoptive parents solely on the basis of sexual orientation. Married New York residents may also pursue a second parent adoption to adopt the legal child of their spouse.
Bottom line: An attorney can help you sort through your legal options in raising a family with your same sex spouse, and ensure that your family is afforded the maximum level of protection available.