Family Building Legal Issues to Consider if You Are a L.G.B.T.Q. Parent

** This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.

In April 2020, The New York Times reran an article, entitled “Legal Basics for L.G.B.T.Q. Parents,” by David Dodge (this article was previously published on May 3, 2019.) Click here to read the article in its entirety. The article considers several legal steps that L.G.B.T.Q. parents should consider regarding family expansion.

Many of our Family Formation clients are same-sex couples that want to have a baby. Thankfully, now more than ever before, there are numerous family planning options available for members of the L.G.B.T.Q community. However, unfortunately many obstacles and hurdles still exist due to regulations and certain state laws. The New York Times identified a plan of action for L.G.B.T.Q. would-be parents:

  • Consider the legal issues in your state.
  • Consider the legal issues based on your chosen path to parenthood.
  • Consider the potential legal issues based on your relationship status.
  1. Consider the legal issues in your state.

Research, research, and research! Educate yourself on the adoption and assisted reproductive technology laws in your state. Consult with an attorney in your state that understands the nuances, case law, regulations, etc. of adoption and/or family planning.

  1. Consider the legal issues based on your chosen path to parenthood.

Are you using a sperm and/or egg donor? If so, will you use a known donor or anonymous donor? Gestational carrier or traditional surrogate? What about the option to do an at-home insemination with no medical involvement? Once you choose an option, make sure that you follow state laws/regulations.

What about adoption? In 2015, the Supreme Court implemented nationwide marriage equality and enabled L.G.B.T.Q. persons to adopt or serve as foster parents in the United States. Despite this, some states prohibit prospective adoptive and foster parents from adopting and fostering via “religious freedom” laws. In addition to state discrimination, adopting abroad can also be a difficult process. Many countries ban L.G.B.T.Q. individuals and couples from international adoption, such as China, Haiti, and India.

To ensure that you are following all laws/regulations and are in a L.Q.B.T.Q. family formation friendly state, please consult an attorney in your area that specializes in adoption and family planning.

  1. Consider potential legal issues based on your relationship status.

Make sure that your status as a parent is protected by a court order that states you are a legal parent of the child; having your name listed on your child’s birth certificate is a great start, but may not be sufficient in the event of a dispute. The best way to protect yourself in the event of dispute is through a court order establishing legal parentage or granting an adoption. For more information on stepparent adoption or a second-parent adoption in Virginia, please read our blog post found here.

Lastly, don’t be intimated by the process. Contact an attorney and ask questions. The family formation law world can be confusing, complicated, and ever-changing. We at ThompsonMcMullan are here for you.

To get started on building your family, please do not hesitate to contact us.

*This blog is the product of a collaborative effort by Attorney Sherry Fox, Attorney Frances Caruso, and Paralegal Mollie Schwam.*