When Baby Only Makes Two: Same Sex Parents Fight To Be Included On Birth Certificates In Some States
There is nothing quite as exhilarating as the birth of a child. If you're a female same sex couple, however, your joy may be overshadowed by the fact that only the birth mother may be listed as a parent on the birth certificate in some states.
While the U.S. has come a long way in recognizing same sex marriages and same sex parents, the wrinkles have yet to be completely ironed out. Here's what you need to know:
Being listed on the birth certificate is crucial for parents.
Having your name listed on your child's birth certificate isn't merely a formality. That legal document conveys rights and responsibilities to both parents and their offspring.
If you aren't recognized as one of the birth parents, you may be denied the right to take your child to the doctor, be involved in their schooling, or set them up in daycare. Not being a legal guardian of your own child also means you can't sign the child up on your health insurance plan, arrange their Social Security documentation or establish their inheritance.
There may also be custody and child support issues in a divorce if only one partner is listed as the actual parent.
Laws are slowly changing.
As same sex couples bring lawsuits against the states, the rules are slowly being modified to accommodate same sex parents whose partners give birth. Utah recently changed its laws to allow for both parties to be listed on the birth certificate, and has been ordered to pay the legal fees of a couple who sued the state after being denied this right.
The couple had used reproductive assistance to conceive, which many heterosexual couples do with no adverse effects as it relates to listings on birth certificates. A judge ruled that the couple should be treated the same way as any couple using donor sperm or embryos, and stated that Utah had shown no reason why it should deny the non-birth parent the right to be listed.
Similar cases are playing out across the nation in the states of Alabama, Florida, Indiana, and Mississippi. The state of Arkansas has amended several birth certificates recently to include both partners, but only if they can prove that both partners were married before the child was born.
Protect yourself and your child, and know that laws will change.
Depending on your state, you may be able to file legal guardianship with the court or formally adopt your child if you feel that you cannot wait until the laws change. This will entitle you to act as a parent in obtaining passports and consenting to medical treatment. You may also wish to give birth in a state that does allow both of you to be listed as parents when your child is born.
Both of these solutions can be costly and a burden, but they will protect your family from not being able to fully act as one.
The Supreme Court specifically mentioned birth certificates in its decision to legalize same sex marriages, so any state that brings a case to the federal level will surely lose. Most states will eventually comply without getting dramatic.
If you and your partner are expecting soon, and you are in a state that refuses to recognize both partners on birth certificates, consult with a family law attorney to find out which steps you should take to protect you, your spouse and your children.
To learn more, contact a family law firm like Law Office Of Ernest A Buche Jr.