SAME-SEX COUPLES, SECOND PARENT ADOPTION AND CO-PARENTING

In 2015, same-sex couples won an amazing victory when the law of the land changed to allow them to legally marry and enjoy all of the benefits that it brings. You and your partner may have taken the plunge and made your union official.

After you got married, you decided that a child would round out your new family. Perhaps one of you already has a child, either biologically or through adoption. Now, you want to make sure that each of you is a legal parent. You may decide to pursue a second parent adoption to make that happen.

What is second parent adoption?

A second parent adoption allows the parent who currently has no legal rights to the child to become a legal parent. The good part about such an adoption is that it leaves the parental rights of the “first parent” intact. A successful process results in the child you both love and raise having two legal parents.

Taking things one step further

Even after both of you are declared legal parents, it may be beneficial to take things one step further. Creating a co-parenting agreement protects each of your rights in the event you decide to divorce. Same-sex couple divorce and custody issues remain problematic for many couples whether here in Kentucky or elsewhere. Protecting yourself and your child needs to remain a priority.

Your co-parenting agreement can outline how you will share parenting responsibilities whether they be financial, medical or otherwise. You can also outline how the two of you would share custody if you divorce. This agreement provides further evidence to the court that you are a family.

What to include in your co-parenting agreement

At a minimum, your agreement can outline the following factors:

  • Who makes major decisions that affect the child’s future
  • Who the child will live with after the divorce
  • What will happen if one parent moves away
  • How to provide for medical care and education expenses
  • Whether you raise your child in a particular religion
  • How you will resolve any disagreements
  • What happens if one of you violates the terms of the agreement

Of course, you can add in any other provisions that fit your family’s needs. As long as they don’t violate public policy or current law, and protect the best interests of your child, the agreement should pass the scrutiny of the court if necessary.

Making it all happen

If you wish to pursue a second parent adoption and create a co-parenting agreement, you may need legal help. With what is at stake for your family, attempting to go it alone could put your child’s future in jeopardy. Finding the appropriate legal advocate could help things go more smoothly and provide you with a secure parental future.

IS THERE ANY WAY THAT I CAN ADOPT MY STEPCHILDREN?

If you marry a person who is a parent, you may reach a point where you wish to adopt your stepkids. Stepparent adoption can be a beautiful way to grow your Kentucky family, but there could be certain roadblocks standing between you and your ultimate objective. If you are looking to formalize and legally establish your relationship with your stepkids, you would be wise to seek a full understanding of your options.

One of the main hurdles to accomplishing your goal of adopting your stepchildren is gaining the consent of the other biological parent. These can be complex issues, and the other parent may not be present or willing to allow you to move forward with this goal. Whatever your family law goal may be, you have the right to seek a full understanding of your rights and the choices available to you.

What you need to know about this type of adoption

In many cases, it may not be as difficult to adopt the biological children of your spouse as it can be with other types of adoption. However, if this is your ultimate goal, it can be beneficial for you to understand the following about stepparent adoption:

  • Consent of the other biological parent is necessary to complete the stepparent adoption process.
  • Getting consent from the other parent can be difficult because, ultimately, that parent is relinquishing his or her parental rights.
  • If the other parent is not present, abandoned the child or had abuse or addiction problems, you may be able to have the court terminate the rights of the other biological parent.

If the other parent does not give his or her consent, you will have to prove that there are grounds to terminate the other parent’s rights. You will need to provide evidence of physical or financial abandonment, abuse, neglect or other severe issues that could compromise the best interests of the child.

Accomplishing the goals of your family

Family law issues can be complex and stressful, even in matters that are seemingly straightforward. Perhaps you, your spouse and your stepkids want to move forward with the adoption process, but it is still useful to seek legal help as you pursue a reasonable and beneficial outcome to your case.

Adoption is a positive step for many families, but it is prudent to move forward only after a full understanding of your rights and the legal options that you have.