Legally recognizing a same-sex partner’s rights to care for and provide for a child is a vital step in making a family whole. The same is true when a same-sex couple decides to adopt a child or add a child to their household through assisted reproduction methods.
At Berman & Asbel, LLP we provide personalized representation to everyone we represent. We take on your legal concerns and set out to achieve the results you desire.
The Legal Parent-Child Relationship
Parents and children of heterosexual couples enjoy built-in protections under Pennsylvania law. However, the same protections are not automatic for gay and lesbian couples. For most same-sex couples with children, one partner is the biological parent of a child conceived through surrogacy, sperm donation or another assistive reproduction method. While the other partner may serve as a parent in terms of nurture, discipline and financial support, the partner does not automatically have the protections of the legal parent-child relationship, nor does the child.
Legal Protections Granted Through Adoption
Pennsylvania law permits married and unmarried gay couples to adopt a child into their home. In a same-sex relationship, the partner who is not the biological parent of the child may become a legal parent through a second-parent adoption. Second-parent adoptions provide both the parent and child many benefits and protections, such as:
- Protections for the child: Second-parent adoptions enable the child to be covered as a dependent of the nonbiological parent for health insurance and life insurance benefits. Additionally, adoption provides the child with inheritance rights (1) if the parent dies without a will and (2) the rights to federal benefits, such as Social Security benefits if the nonbiological parent dies or becomes disabled while the child is a minor. At the same time, the parental relationship of the partner who is the biological parent is preserved.
- Protections for the nonbiological parent: Without a second-parent adoption, the nonbiological parent could potentially lose all interaction with the child if the relationship ends or if the biological parent dies while the child is a minor. Second-parent adoptions give the nonbiological parent legal rights as a parent if there are future potential custody, visitation and child support issues.
Our family law attorneys assist same-sex couples with second-parent adoptions to ensure the relationship between each parent and child has the full protection of the law. We handle all aspects of gay adoptions such as preparing clients for the home study and other procedures, if necessary.