Lessons learned from Lavender Law

I’m attending this year’s annual LGBT lawyers conference in New York this week, and I’m learning a lot from the sessions.  The most valuable feature of the conference was a day long seminar on family law issues, and not surprisingly,  the current family law landscape is indeed complicated.

One of the most important topics is the issue of portability of parentage rights.  Same-sex couples can achieve legal parentage in several ways: through the presumptions of parentage arising out of the marriage or domestic partnership status of the parents (in recognition states), though a parentage decree from a court (often before the child is even born), or through a conventional step-parent or second-parent adoption by the non-biological or non-legal parent.  While the adoption process is the most complicated and often the most expensive approach, many lawyers believe it is the best route to go, in the long run.  Why is that?  Because if the family (or the biological parent) later moves to a non-recognition state and the couple breaks up, the second parent will be in the best legal position to retain parentage.  It also is the best way to assure that the parent-child relationship will be recognized by the federal government.

This is one area where no one should do it alone.  Consult with a local lawyer who is familiar with same-sex parenting law, and be sure to inquire about the long-term consequences of the different legal options.  Better to spend a bit more money and time to do it right, to avoid any conflicts or heartache later on.

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