Becoming a parent is one of the most remarkable acts that a human being can experience. It’s incredible to come to the realization that you’re responsible for the growth, development, and overall pursuit of happiness of a child. New parents will often say that providing love, support, and security are some of the most important aspects of early parenting.
However, for same-sex couples, providing a sense of security of their parental rights isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, many same-sex couples deal with everyday challenges that would be inconceivable to most parents. In order to protect same-sex parenting rights in California, much more has to be done. There’s a strong possibility that a new state law could help same-sex couples to gain more control over the legal processes that protect their rights as parents.
A New Form to Protect Same-Sex Parenting Rights in California
Imagine the following scenario. You’re in a loving relationship with a partner who has just given birth to your child. After years of trying to conceive through in vitro fertilization, you’re ecstatic that this day has finally come. Then, you realize that because you’re not married, you have no legal parenting rights over your child, despite the fact that it was your egg and a donor sperm that made this little miracle happen. This shocking realization is one that has happened to many same-sex couples all over the country.
This is the sort of experience that heterosexual parents have never struggled with.
When a baby is born, a specific hospital form has been used for decades to claim one mother and one father, even if the couple is not married. This one document, called a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, settles any legal disputes that could possibly occur in the future. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been available to same-sex couples simply because the form only holds signatures for “mother” and “father”. Advocates are now hoping that this form will become gender-neutral and be available in states across the country, including California. This one hospital document could be the key to protect same-sex parenting rights in California.
Why This Matters
Up until now, same-sex couples have been given options to work around the current parenting rights issues. For instance, many LGBTQ family law attorneys and advocates would promote second-parent adoptions. Normally, this avenue would be strongly encouraged, even if both of their names were on the birth certificate. This is because, without an adoption, whichever partner didn’t give birth could end up with zero legal rights if something unfortunate were to happen. If something happened to the birth mother, or the couple broke up, the non-birth parent could possibly be left in an expensive custody battle. Or even worse, watch her own child end up in the foster care system.
Unfortunately, the second-parent adoption process is lengthy and costly. It could take months for an adoption to take place and cost thousands of dollars. For many same-sex couples who don’t have the means to process an adoption, they simply moved forward and hoped to avoid disaster in the future. Imagine being asked to go through the unfathomable process of adopting your own child? For many same-sex couples, it’s almost laughable and definitely offensive. But it was the only option to protect same-sex parenting rights in California.
Now, a revised hospital form could create a sense of ease for same-sex parents.
For More Information on Parenting Rights
Same-sex couples currently deal with a wide range of complex issues that challenge their parenting rights on a daily basis. Divorce, bad break-ups, or illnesses to the birthmother aren’t their only fears. Adding their children to their insurance plans, doctor visits, or arranging contracts with schools, daycares, or other organizations can be incredibly difficult. Many same-sex couples will use words like degrading, discouraging, or humiliating when they have to ask for legal permission to pick their own child up from school. Attorneys, advocates, and everyone who is a part of or supports the LGBTQ community is pushing for this change.
While the gender-neutral changes to this form can protect same-sex parenting rights in California, it’s just the beginning. A lot still needs to be done to make sure that same-sex couples and families are treated fairly in and out of the legal system. If you or someone you know is struggling with same-sex parenting rights issues, it’s important to contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. A family law attorney can shed light on the many details that define these laws, as well as what your options are moving forward. Don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance today.