Recently in Gay Adoption Category

July 10, 2012

Adoptions by Gay and Lesbian Parents Recognized in Florida

gay-adoption.jpgAccording to recent census data and other studies, the number of children being raised by lesbian and gay parents is increasing rapidly. This increase is evidenced not only throughout the country, but at home in Florida as well. The conflicting laws of the various states as to the legal recognition of same-sex parenting rights present not only complications but is fraught with legal challenges.

A nagging question is what happens when same-sex parents become parents in one state, but then move to a state that does not provide the same protection to the parties parent-child relationships?

The 2009 Florida case Embry v. Ryan (11 So. 3d 408, Fla. 2nd DCA) examined this issue involving a same-sex couple who became parents while living in Washington State, and then moved to Florida. While living in Washington, one of the partners gave birth to a child. A few months later the other partner adopted the child. After moving to Florida, and 4 years after the birth of their daughter, the couple broke up. The former partners initially entered into an amicable visitation and custody agreement, which lasted for approximately 3 years. However, like many relationships, their relationship became strained. The birth mother then refused to let her former partner have any contact with the child. Litigation ensued.

The adoptive (non-birth) mom filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory relief and a petition to determine parental responsibility, contact and support. The birth mom sought to dismiss the petition arguing that Florida was not required to give "full faith and credit" to the Washington state adoption as it was contrary to Florida public policy which prohibited same-sex couple adoptions.

The United States Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause provides that states give effect to judgments from sister states. The United States Supreme Court has made it clear that a "final judgment in one State, if rendered by a court with adjudicatory authority over the subject matter and persons governed by the judgment qualifies for recognition throughout the land."

The Court further stated that there are no public policy exceptions to the full faith and credit clause which is due to judgments entered in another state.

The Florida Court of Appeals in the Embry case held that "regardless of whether the trial court believed that the Washington adoption violated a clearly established public policy in Florida, it was improper for the trial court to refuse to give the Washington judgment full faith and credit.

The Florida court declared that the same-sex relationship was irrelevant for the purpose of enforcing the adoptive mother's rights and obligations as an adoptive parent. Florida law specifically states that adoption decrees from other states must be recognized as though the judgment was issued by a court of this state. There is no exception for gay second-parent adoption built into this Florida provision.

If you have any questions about your legal rights concerning gay, lesbian or same-sex partner adoption in the State of Florida, contact a Jacksonville gay and lesbian estate planning lawyer.

November 16, 2011

Same-Sex Couples Adopting Around the Country

Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian adoptions.jpgLawyers representing same-sex couples wanting to adopt in Maryland file in the favored jurisdiction of Baltimore City Circuit Court. Although more and more Maryland circuit courts are granting adoptions to same-sex couples, lawyers who focus their practice on gay families will recommend filing in a friendly jurisdiction. Read more on this article at Baltimore Court: A magnet for Same-Sex Parents.

The topic of civil rights for gay individuals and families have sparked debates throughout the country, as in Maryland, where the General Assembly is expected to take up same-sex marriage again next year; and in Florida, where an appeals court struck down a ban on gay adoptions last year.

Conservative groups nationwide have criticized judicial activism contending that children should be raised in families with a mother and father. But gay and lesbian advocates point to the medical community. The American Psychological Association disputes the claim that children are more successful when raised by heterosexual parents. The American Medical Association also supports adoption by same-sex couples.

Maryland, like Florida, has counties that are more "gay friendly" than others. It is important to remember the most important issue when talking about gay adoptions is that it broadens the pool of adoptive parents and reduces the number of children bouncing from foster home to foster home.

Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeal which struck down the ban prohibiting a gay person from adopting is currently the "law of the land" in Florida. Adoption can be a very complicated legal procedure, especially if you are gay. If you have questions about adopting in Florida, consult with a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Estate Planning Lawyer.

October 27, 2011

Divorce, Adoption, and Custoday for Gay and Lesbian Families.

Orange Park Gay and Lesbian Issues.jpgFlorida same-sex couples who are raising children together or are planning to either adopt or use donor insemination should consult with an Orange Park Law Firm practicing in gay legal issues.

Florida same-sex parenting issues are an evolving area of law. The question about the legal parentage of a child can be the most important question in a couple's relationship, as well as having significance to the child.

Should an Orange Park same-sex couple break up, only the legal parent will be entitled to custody and visitation, and only they are legally responsible for the care and support of the child. This can have a profound and detrimental effect to not only the non-legal parent, but the child as well.

A "legal parent" is one who has the right to live with the child and has the authority to make decisions about the health, education and welfare of that child. A legal parent also has a legal obligation to support the child financially.

There have been several cases nationwide in which a biological or adoptive parent tries to deny the parental rights of their partner (or ex-partner). The results of these cases has been mixed.

The Deleware Supreme Court issued a ruling last spring upholding the rights of a woman who had raised a child with her former same-sex partner (a child the partner adopted but that the woman herself did not). The court identified the woman as a "de facto " parent. A "de facto" parent has been defined as a person who shares (at least) equally in primary childcare responsibilities while residing with a child for reasons other than money.

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that a non-biological mom has a right under the doctrine of "in loco parentis" (which recognizes a person who has acted as a parent) to be heard at a court hearing regarding custody and visitation rights of a child that she and her former partner were raising.

However, the North Carolina Supreme Court, in a decision last year, decided that a lesbian mother's second parent adoption was void.

Mixed court ruling equates to uncertainty in this area of law. It is important therefore, to take the time to speak with an Orange Park Family Law Attorney who can suggest legal documents which may help to protect you, your partner and your kids.

September 27, 2011

Florida Anti-Gay Adoption Ban Celebrates One Year Anniversary

GAY_Adoption_707080_xlarge.jpegHow time flies, it was October 22, 2010, when the Martin Gill decision held Florida's ban on gay individuals adopting unconstitutional. A great victory for all Floridians and all people. Despite this win it is still crucial for same-sex parents of children to review their current estate planning documents, such as Wills, Trusts, Pre-Need Guardianship papers, Powers of Attorney and Designation of Health Care Surrogates. If you have never executed these type of legal documents, the time is now.

Individuals who are in a same-sex relationship, but who are NOT the legal parent of their "children" need to consult with a Family Law Attorney who is sensitive to the issues of gay and lesbian couples with children. There are documents needed to protect not only your relationship with your same-sex partner, but with your non-biological and non-legal kids.

The Florida court case which has allowed the LGBT community to adopt is just the beginning, however, despite this win, it is still important to consult with a LBGT friendly law firm to ensure that your rights and those of your family are protected.

June 29, 2011

Florida Same-Sex Partners Debate Adoption vs. Legal Documents

2 men and child.jpgMany Orange Park Same-Sex Couples are raising children, yet only one partner is the legal parent. Will the preparation of estate planning documents suffice to protect your "non-legal" children. A few issues to consider are the following:

Inheritance rights. If a legal parent dies without a Will, the Florida Intestacy Statute will provide for that person's children. Not so with a non-legal parent. If the non-legal parent dies without a Will, or dies with an invalid Will, then the children will not inherit from that parent. Likewise, the children will not inherit from the non-legal parent's family.

Further, although the non-legal parent may provide for their children in their Last Will and Testament, a Will can, and often is contested by family members, especially when they are not 100% on board with the same-sex relationship.

Another issues to be aware of is the termination of a relationship. If and when a same-sex couple breaks up, the children may be affected if they are denied a continuing relationship with the non-legal parent. Additionally, the child[ren] may be denied financial support from the departing parent.

The need for Florida adoption rights is becoming more significant given the rise in litigation between former partners over custody, visitation and support rights.

If you would like some direction and additional information as to the options you should be thinking about, contact an Orange Park Adoption Attorney who has experience with 2nd parent adoptions and estate planning for same-sex couples.

June 29, 2011

Gay Adoptions - What is a Second (2nd) Parent Adoption

2 women with kids.jpgA Second Parent Adoption allows the biological parent's same-sex partner to adopt a child without terminating the rights of the biological parent. This type of adoption is comparable to a "stepparent adoption", except both parties are the same gender.

An adopted child is entitled to financial benefits, inheritance rights and Social Security benefits from both parents. However, children being raised by same-sex parents are at a disadvantage if there is no legal relationship between the children and both parents. For example, the child's biological parent may not have health insurance to cover the child, but the non-legal parent does. Further, employees that offer domestic partnership benefits may not cover the non-legal child of the employee.

If the non-legal parent dies, the child cannot receive surviving dependent benefits from the Social Security Administration. This can be financially detrimental to the child[ren], especially if the deceased parent was the family's primary wage earner.

Further, without a legal relationship to the parent, children have no standing to bring a wrongful death action or to receive tort benefits for the loss of that (non-legal) parent.

If you would like to learn more about a 2nd Parent Adoption, contact a Jacksonville Adoption Attorney focusing on LGBT issues and 2nd parent adoptions.

June 28, 2011

Frustration for Gay and Lesbian Parents who Aren't Recognized as Legal Parents

Gay All Families Welcome.jpgThere are many St. Augustine same-sex couples who are raising children with only one legally recognized parent. In a monumental Florida court ruling which overturned the ban on gay adoption in September 2010, the court reported that scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports allowing gay people to adopt, and that "the best interest of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoptions".

If a same-sex partner has no legal rights to a child he/she is raising, despite any legal documents drawn up naming that person as a child's guardian, the legal rights are not the same as that of legal parent.

If you are in a similar situation and would like to talk about adopting the kids you are already raising, call a St. Augustine Adoption Attorney who would be happy to discuss with you adoption as well as other legal documents available for you, your partner and your children.

June 10, 2011

Gay Couples Adopting in Florida

gayadoption.jpgLate last year, a Florida appeals court declared unconstitutional a 33-year-old state law that prevented gay people from adopting children. Since that decision, gay couples in Florida have quietly begun adopting children.

Prior to the ruling, social workers often did not ask about the sexual orientation of an adopting parent, which meant some gay Floridians were adopting children under the radar. However, even with this option gay couples could not obtain the same legal rights as straight couples in the same situation, such as custodial rights in the event the adoptive parent died. The court's ruling, however, means gay couples can legally adopt and have many of the same custodial rights as straight parents.

There are many things a gay couple should consider prior to adopting a child of their own. For example, the current court ruling is relatively young and will likely be challenged in other courts or the Florida legislature. Additionally, the media may be interested in your adoption and you may find yourself with unwanted attention. If you are interested in growing your family, contact a Florida LGBT Lawyer or a Jacksonville Family Law Lawyer to discuss your options.

April 13, 2011

Another Adoption Victory for Same-Sex Couples in Arkansas

love my rainbow family.jpg
Florida same-sex couples that want to adopt, the movement is on. The Arkansas Supreme Court recently ruled that the state's ban on adoption and foster parenting by any person cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of marriage is a violation of the Arkansas Constitution.

As in Florida, the best interest of the child criteria was the focus. The Plaintiffs in the
Arkansas case involved:• a lesbian couple adopting a special-needs child;

• a lesbian grandmother wanting to adopt a grandchild, currently in state care;

• three teenagers in the foster care system awaiting placement;

• several heterosexual couples prevented from designating certain gay or lesbian friends or relatives to adopt their children in the case of the parent's death.

Equality for Florida gay and lesbian individuals wanting the right to adopt has happened, hopefully, the Florida and Arkansas rulings will permeate to all states who currently do not allow a gay or lesbian person from adopting. 

Speak with a Jacksonville Adoption Attorney about your desire to adopt.

April 7, 2011

Adoption In Florida: Know What Or Who You're Getting!

system_failure.jpgAs a Florida Adoption Lawyer, I can tell you that adoption is one of the most rewarding areas of law in which Jacksonville family law attorneys practice. It is the one area where everyone is happy and people feel as though something very good is being done. However, there are some horror stories regarding adoption in Florida. In my role as a Jacksonville adoption lawyer, I have seen some cases where the adoption agency has not fully revealed the child's abuse background and as such, the parents are adopting children with far more issues than relayed to them. Many times, these parents are not equipped to give these children the proper psychological counseling or medical care that the children need. As such, the children can and have ended up back in the foster care system with a failed adoption in Florida. It is imperative to utilize a Florida adoption attorney when choosing the adopt a child or children in Florida.

March 4, 2011

Kids living with Same-Sex Parents are All Right

images-2 dads.jpgAnnette Benning and Julianne Moore play Nic and Jules, a married same-sex couple with teenage children, in the fairly recent movie, The Kids Are All Right.

This is a story of lesbian marriage, sperm-donor fatherhood, sex, red wine, and teen angst, when two teen-aged siblings track down their biological "donor dad", Mark Ruffalo, who donated sperm to their lesbian mothers.

This movie shows the complications and problems that can ensue when a known or unknown donor unexpectedly re-enters into a family's life.

To learn more about how a Florida Donor Insemination Agreement, Shared Parenting Agreement, and other legal documents may protect you and your family from any unwanted surprises, contact an Orange Park, Florida Attorney.

January 27, 2011

Florida's New Administration: A Cloud over Gay Adoptions in the Sunshine State?

rainbow familiesimagesCA7M3TPR.jpgA New York Times article reported that about 32 percent of gay couples in Jacksonville Florida are raising children, making Jacksonville second only to San Antonio, Texas. The article also reported that child rearing among same-sex couples is more common in the South than in any other region of the country.

The day after this article, the Miami Herald ran an article where Florida Governor, Rick Scott, stated that "adoptions should be by a married couple". At this time the governor has no plans to revive the ban on gay adoptions.

Florida, the last state in the nation to allow for a gay person to adopt, has come a long way. If you are raising a child in a same-sex relationship in Jacksonville and are not a biological or an adoptive parent, perhaps a 2nd parent adoption has been something you have been contemplating. Now is the time to contact a Jacksonville Attorney who can talk with you about the road to 2nd parent adoption.

November 3, 2010

Gay and Lesbian Adoption Now a Reality for LGBT Community

images-2 dads.jpgJacksonville Florida gay and lesbian couples are ready to adopt. Now that the Florida law banning gay and lesbian individuals from adopting has been lifted, many same-sex Florida couples are making their dreams of a family, a reality.

Florida "second-parent" adoption procedures allow the biological parent's same-sex partner to adopt a child without terminating the rights of the biological or adoptive parent.

Children being raised in Jacksonville by same-sex parents are at a disadvantage if they only have a legal relationship with one of those parents. The legal parent may not have benefits or health insurance coverage for their child, but the non-legal parent does. Social security death benefits will not be provided to a child that does not have a legal relationship with the parent who dies.

There are many questions that must be considered when deciding whether second parent adoption is the right course for you. Florida Gay Adoption is still a new and evolving legal area and it is important to discuss the issues with an attorney. To learn more, call a Jacksonville Florida Adoption Attorney today.

October 1, 2010

Florida Law Banning Gay Adoptions Ruled Unconstitutional

A recent Florida ruling has made it possible for St. Augustine lesbian and gay men to finally become legally recognized parents. A Florida Court of Appeals has ruled that the Florida law banning gay men and lesbians from adopting in the state of Florida is unconstitutional. According to recent data, a quarter million American children are living with same-sex parents. The Florida court of appeals relied on mainstream health and child welfare organizations that have issued policies opposing restrictions on parenting by lesbians and gay men.

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) eloquently stated that:

"Based on more than three decades of social science research and our 85 years of service to millions of families, CWLA believes that any attempt to preclude or prevent gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals or couples from parenting, based solely on their sexual orientation, is not in the best interest of children."

If you would like to adopt for either the first time or if you want to seek legal recognition of a child you are already raising, and would like to discuss your options before proceeding, contact a St. Augustine Florida Gay and Lesbian Rights Adoption Attorney.