Second Parent Adoption: Securing Your Family’s Future

rainbowPhoto courtesy of Dann Toliver

Same sex couples who decide to add children to their families often have to deal with some complicated decisions and legal issues. Often, only one parent is considered the ‘legal parent’ even if both parents share equally in taking care of the couple’s child or children. This happens because legal rights are automatically given to a parent when they are biologically connected to a child. Because both members of a same sex couple are not usually biologically related to their child except in extremely rare circumstances (eggs or sperm donated by a relative to one of the partners), problems and questions can arise that male/female couples never have to face.

In most same sex couples with children, only one partner is the biological parent to the kids. Also, even though many gay couples adopt children, historically only one parent has been granted legal custody. These situations leave the other parent with limited parental rights, and may ultimately cause the non-legal parent to lose contact with the children in the case of a break up.

Luckily, the LGBT community now has a solution to this problem, in the form of a Second Parent Adoption.  This is a legal proceeding which gives the same legal rights to the second parent without the first legal parent losing any rights at all, resulting in the child or children having the benefit of two legal parents. Any breakups or difficulties experienced by the couple won’t cause undue stress on the children, at least not beyond the expected stressors of having parents who decide to end their relationship.

A Second Parent Adoption closely resembles a traditional adoption proceeding, with the only difference being that in this case, one parent already has legal rights to the couple’s children. The second parent must petition the court to be granted joint rights without infringing on the first parent’s rights.

Some people may wonder why a Second Parent Adoption (also known as a Co-Parent Adoption) is even necessary, especially if the couple is in a seemingly stable same sex relationship which may even be recognized as a Civil Union.  In many cases, the second parent may even be listed as a parent on the birth certificate, frequently in cases where artificial insemination has been used to impregnate one partner. The significance of a Second Parent Adoption lies in the fact that a non-biological parent may not be granted the same legal rights by all states.  Unfortunately, not all states recognize and honor Civil Unions and the parenting rights that are implied therein. In order to avoid any potential problems while travelling or as the relationship experiences turbulance, same sex co-parents are advised to become legal parents of their children as soon as possible.

Any child who is born into a family with same sex parents or adopted by one member of a same sex relationship should have the security that come with having two legally recognized parents. It is important for parents to be proactive for the sake of the children that they have taken the responsibility of raising.  Living in New Jersey as a same sex couple will make the process of Second Parent Adoption much easier for couples because the LGBT community is well-respected and not discriminated against here. The Veitengruber Law firm is adept at handling Second Parent Adoptions and can answer all of your questions easily when you call our office for a consultation.

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