The ability for anyone to marry, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, felt like a big leap for many people in the LGBT community. Although in many ways, this is true, there is a long way to go for LGBT couples to have legal equality – particularly with regards to family law matters.
Like any other couple, same-sex couples may with to draft a prenup, get married, have a family, and even proceed with a divorce. Unfortunately, there are certain legal matters, as well as, what many believe is long-standing prejudice, that can stand in the way towards living a life of peace, happiness, family love for those who are a part of the LGBT community.
As family lawyers, we support the LGBT community and strive to help men and women achieve their goals for getting married and having a family. Some of the most common issues we have handled for the LGBT community include:
Adopting a Child
Many same-sex couples will choose to adopt a child. However, their options for doing so are much less than heterosexual couples. Unlike the latter, who can go through practically any agency in the United States, or elsewhere, LGBT couples are limited. Many adoption agencies will not give same-sex couples the right to adopt a child from them – regardless of the amount of care and love they can provide. In other words, same-sex couples may be faced with discrimination and prejudice when trying to adopt. A family lawyer may be able to guide same-sex couples in the right direction, or help with the adoption process, once a child has been chosen.
Custody of Biological Children
Because adoption can be so difficult for same-sex couples, many are choosing to have a child by one parent. The biological parent will be given automatic parental rights, but the non-biological parent may have no parental rights. This is often true even if their name is on the birth certificate. For example, the non-biological parent may be unable to make medical decisions. Or, if the biological parent dies, the non-biological parent may be unable to retain parental rights to continue raising the child. When this is true, the non-biological parent may need to file for adoption. Depending on the state, this might not be possible. Even if it is, some states will not honor their parental rights in the same way.
Another concern to consider is that in the event of a divorce, the non-biological parent may have no custody rights. To avoid this, the legal adoption of the child should be considered. A family lawyer from [law firm name] can explain the applicable laws to you during a consultation.
In addition to the above concerns, same-sex couples may also face legal problems with estate planning. For example, a same-sex couple who is not legally married should certainly have an estate plan. This is necessary to protect the ones they love. Healthcare issues, including a power of attorney, should also be thought through. For example, in medical emergencies, a hospital might only grant permission to see your loved one if you are a legal spouse. If you cannot prove this, you may be presented with a challenge. Although this kind of discrimination is not right, it is, unfortunately, happening throughout the U.S. A power of attorney can protect both parties, legally, and grant one another access to each other in the event of an emergency.
If you are seeking legal assistance for a family-related legal matter, please call a divorce lawyer today.