Santa Barbara Adoption Attorney for Same-Sex Couples
Since same-sex marriage was legalized throughout the country in 2015 in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, same-sex couples have begun to recognize some equality regarding related family issues. However, especially for unmarried couples, many laws still work differently for homosexual and heterosexual couples, sometimes requiring additional legal steps to establish legal parentage and adopt your partner’s children.
If you are part of a same-sex couple and are considering adopting or having children with your spouse or partner, talk to the Santa Barbara same-sex adoption attorneys at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth. Our attorneys can help guide you through the legal requirements to have both of you properly listed as your children’s parents and to ensure custody rights in your family. For a free legal consultation with our attorneys, call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.
Legal Help for Same-Sex Couples Adopting Each Other’s Children
Same-sex couples have many options today for having children. While adopting a child through an agency or an international adoption agency is still an option, many couples opt for surrogacy or donors to have children that are biologically theirs. California law, and the laws of many other states, automatically assume that when a married woman has a baby, her spouse is the father – but how does this law apply to same-sex couples?
Establishing Parentage for Lesbian Couples
California Family Code § 7611 creates a presumption that when a married woman gives birth, her spouse is the other parent. This statute uses gender-neutral language, implying that it does apply to lesbian couples as well if one of them gives birth with the assistance of a sperm donor or other reproductive assistance. However, this presumption only applies to married straight or lesbian couples and does not help unmarried couples or gay men establish parentage.
Establishing Parentage in Surrogacy Cases
In cases involving surrogacy, only one parent is biologically related to the child. You and your partner can use surrogacy agreements which put the intended parents on the birth certificate instead of the surrogate (also called a “gestational carrier”), giving both parents equal rights and responsibilities as parents. This can help gay men and unmarried couples establish parentage in many cases. These agreements also make it possible to have both partners contribute genetic material without knowing which one is used for your child and still establish both of you as the legal parents.
Stepchild Adoption for LGBT Couples
If all else fails and there is no other law that establishes you as the co-parent of your partner’s children, you can always use adoption to establish your parental rights. Even in many cases where the law does protect your parental rights, your rights may be better secured if you get a court order for adoption anyway. Especially if you move out of state or to another country where same-sex adoption is less common or accepted, your court order establishing you as the parent can help secure your rights.
When you adopt a child in California, you can amend their birth certificate as well. This means that no matter how your child was conceived, you will be the child’s official parent. This is also helpful for establishing your partner as your child’s parent if your child is from a previous relationship and you want your spouse to be able to co-parent with you.
Adoption is the strongest way to ensure your parental rights. Not only does this make you the child’s legal parent and a legal equal to the child’s genetic parent or birth parent, but it is also a bond that lasts beyond the marriage. If you get separated or divorced – or if one of you passes away – the adoption survives the marriage and you will still be the child’s legal parent. This gives you the right to take custody and continue to care for your shared children.
Agency and International Adoption for Gay Couples in California
If you and your spouse or partner want to adopt a child through traditional agency adoption or through international adoption, California law generally protects your right. Anyone can adopt a child in California as long as they pass background investigations, homestudies, and other requirements.
The courts and the adoption agency will typically run multiple rounds of investigations into your home life and your ability to care for a child. This ensures that you are fit and able to be a parent to your future child. The court will also take part in the process by finalizing the adoption and transferring parental rights to you. This process is longer and more involved than stepchild adoption, but it is a necessary part of adoption.
California law generally supports same-sex adoptions, and denying an adoption application on the grounds of the couple’s affectional or sexual orientation would likely constitute discrimination. However, many religious adoption agencies and international adoption agencies are permitted to discriminate, either on the grounds of religious objection or because U.S. law does not apply to them. Our attorneys can help guide you through the process and help you affect your adoption and protect your legal rights.
Our Santa Barbara Adoption Attorneys for LGBT Couples in California Offer Free Legal Consultations
If you and your partner or spouse are considering adopting or want to have children through surrogacy or IVF, our attorneys can help guide you through the legal process of establishing parentage for your children. If necessary, our lawyers can help you adopt from an agency or international adoption service or affect a stepchild adoption for your spouse’s biological child. For a free legal consultation on your case and help understanding how the law protects your parental rights as a same-sex couple, contact our Santa Barbara lawyers for same-sex adoptions at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth. Our number is (805) 643-5555.