Same-sex spouses having children in Georgia via artificial insemination and other assisted reproduction technologies are both being identified as parents on their child’s birth certificate, but it may be wise for them to do more to protect their parental rights. The U.S. Supreme Court’s “Marriage Equality” decision in June opened up lots of questions regarding when a same-sex spouse will be recognized as a parent. The Family Law Review published Georgia Lord’s recent article addressing these questions — but that article was intended for an audience of Judges and lawyers rather than clients, and can be hard for nonlawyers to decipher. Barbara Katz (a well-regarded adoption and assisted reproduction attorney) has written an updated summary on some of these issues that is designed to be read by nonlawyers. It is intended to assist same-sex parents in deciding whether they need to take further action to protect their custodial rights. With Ms. Katz’s kind permission, her summary is available HERE.
As Ms. Katz explains, for married couples who are having a child biologically via artificial insemination, Georgia Vital Records will automatically list both spouses as the baby’s legal parents. However, NOT ALL STATES have this same “marital presumption of legitimacy.” Because of this, many LGBT organizations and mainstream legal organizations are advising gay parents having children biologically to still get a court order of parentage or complete a stepparent adoption, even if both parents’ names are on the birth certificate. The reason that some parents may want to take this precaution is that it is possible that their right to be recognized as a parent may be challenged in the future. Such challenges may come from a known sperm donor seeking parental rights, from the other parent during a divorce action, or from the biological grandparents, aunts or uncles in the wake of the biological mother’s death. Each parent should carefully consider his or her family’s particular situation in determining whether to spend the time and money involved in seeking a court order to clarify his or her parental rights.
Georgia Lord cautions that same-sex parents who were not married to each other (via a government-licensed ceremony) before their child was born stand on very different footing, legally, that those who were married. She and other family law attorneys are watching closely to see the rulings courts issue regarding such situations. There is also a strong possibility that the Georgia Legislature may address these issues during its upcoming session. Ms. Lord encourages everyone to let their state legislators know their views regarding what the rules that govern questions of child custody should be.