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Same-Sex Couples And Adoption

Same-Sex Couples And Adoption

As the landscape of the family dynamic is changing across America, gay and lesbian couples are petitioning the courts in increasing numbers to adopt children and build their families. There are many different situations and social configurations that can lead a same-sex couple or partners to seek adoption. For lesbian partners not in civil unions at the time of the child’s birth, one spouse may have given birth and the other may seek to adopt the child as a second parent or step-parent adoption (if the state where the couple resides permits such adoptions). Gay men may desire to do almost the same thing, either by using a surrogate to give birth to a child or by adopting a child through other means. In addition, in states that permit such, gay and lesbian couples may try to jointly adopt children so that both partners become the legal parents of the child at the same time. Joint or second parent adoptions may not be a potential option for many same-sex partners in the United States because some states continue to disallow same-sex partners from adopting children together. In New Jersey, same-sex couples are allowed to adopt a child together, whether it be a joint adoption or a second parent adoption. Additionally, as is the case with married heterosexual couples, New Jersey grants legal parent status to gay and lesbian birth partners when a child is born of a legal civil union. Still, it is recommended, even in these situations, that the non-biological parent seek a step-parent adoption to ensure that the legal rights of that parent are recognized if they were to travel to a state that does not recognize gay and lesbian relationships. Further, there may be options for gay and/or lesbian partners who cannot or do not wish to legally adopt a child. The parties can execute a legal parenting agreement indicating that although only one partner is the legal parent of the child, the other partner has certain rights and obligations over the child that effectively make them a parent. As the social scheme and dynamic of the structure of the “traditional family” continues to evolve, the law will reflect the changes and provide more options for gay and lesbian or couples who wish to adopt or co-parent children during their relationship. For more information about Same-Sex Civil Union, Dissolution, Adoption, Parenting Time, Custody and Visitation, or other LGBT Family Law matters in New Jersey visit NJCivilUnionLaw.com and HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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