When the Obama administration helped to make marriage possible for the LGBTQ community, it was a bittersweet moment. It brought them one step closer to having rights similar to heterosexual couples, but not exactly. One of the biggest outstanding issues was establishing parental rights for both parents when they started a family. This was tricky even when one spouse gave birth to the child and the other spouse was the biological donor.
According to NBC News, several states have stepped up to make it easier for same-sex couples to secure parental rights without spending thousands of dollars on adoption. Massachusetts is one of a handful of states that provides a gender-neutral hospital form that allows both parents to be listed on the child’s documents. Without this form, if anything should happen to the partner giving birth, the other spouse may have no parental claims to the child and may lose the child to the foster care system.
For same-sex partners where neither partner gave birth to a child, they may face even worse difficulties if they move to a different state. If they were not married when they started their family, then the situation may become even more confusing. Add the possibility of breakups and divorces to the mix and the LGBTQ community face unique problems when it comes to child custody battles. Because of this, advocates encourage same-sex couples to go through the adoption process even when they do not believe they have to.
According to the American Bar Association, children suffer too when states make it difficult to establish a legal link between parent and child. If there are no parental rights, then the second parent not only has no rights to custody or visitation, but they may not need to pay child support either. The child may also miss out on the opportunity to inherit the assets of the second parent when they pass away. Workers’ compensation, retirement benefits and social security are just some of the additional benefits that may slip through their fingers.
Some states have come a long way to ensure that both parents remain legally and financially responsible for the child. However, until this becomes a nationwide movement, a simply move out-of-state may continue to cost some same-sex parents their parental rights.