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Q: Legally married, do we need second parent adoption?

My wife and I were legally married in Washington state last year but we currently reside in Georgia. Together we are trying to start a family through artificial insemination; I will be carrying the child, however, both of our names will be on the birth certificate. Will my wife have to do a second parent adoption given that we are married?

A: Response from Richard B. Vaughn

Despite the fact that you both can be listed on the birth certificate, your wife will not have automatic presumption of parental rights even if you are married. This is because of two things. First, the child/children are created through assisted reproduction (A.I.), and this takes away the benefit of the marital presumption (that a child born into a marriage is the child of both spouses). Second, as an LGBT family, she will need something (a court order) that will be recognized in all states. While your marriage is now recognized in all states, parental rights for same-sex parents are not necessarily recognized universally in all jurisdictions. Your wife is best protected if she completes a second parent adoption (in your case, since you are married, it would be called a step-parent adoption). This gives her the protection of a court order that has full faith and credit under the US constitution and must be recognized in all other states.

You should consult with a family lawyer familiar with these issues in Georgia, and I would highly recommend Lori Surmay.

Lori M. Surmay Claiborne & Surmay, P.C. 60 Lenox Pointe, N.E. Atlanta, GA 30324-3170 404-442-6969 (office) 404-442-6950 (fax)

Best of luck to you in your family building!!

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Cliff Greenberg

Cliff Greenberg

Presented by the Center

Cliff Greenberg, Esq, has devoted his entire legal career to helping children and families. After graduating from the George Washington University School of Law, he joined the Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Division in Manhattan as a Law Guardian, where he worked tirelessly to ensure that the city's foster children were protected and placed in loving, permanent homes.
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Joyce Kauffman

Joyce Kauffman

Joyce Kauffman is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in December 1992. She has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Lesley College (now Lesley University) and a Bachelor's degree in Child Development from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. Attorney Kauffman is also a trained Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer; the focus of her legal practice, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is LGBT family law and traditional family law.
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Richard B. Vaughn

Richard B. Vaughn

At International Fertility Law Group (IFLG), Richard B. Vaughn provides legal services nationwide to clients from all over the world hoping to build their families through assisted reproduction as well. Among many other volunteer activities, Rich Chairs the A.R.T. Committee of the ABA Family Law Section. Rich has also served on the National Board of the American Fertility Association (now Path 2 Parenthood).
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