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Florida Same-Sex Couple Uses Adoption Process to Obtain Equal Child Custody Benefits

On July 11th, The Ledger featured a story highlighting a same-sex couple relying on the Florida state adoption process in order to ensure that both parents had equal custody rights with respect to their child. While this strikes many people as unfair–given that a heterosexual married couple does not require a father to do the same (even if the father is not the biological father when the child is born)–it is the reality of living in a society that has legalized same-sex marriage, but is still tagging along when it comes to corresponding rights, such as child custody.

As with many couples, in this instance, one mother in the partnership gave birth to the couple’s child after becoming pregnant through intrauterine insemination, but both parents could not be listed on the birth certificate because the state of Florida still does not allow the female spouse of the woman giving birth to be listed as the second parent. This leaves same-sex couples relying on the same legal process that is typically used by a stepfather seeking to adopt his wife’s child.

Full Parental Rights?

The adoption process promises to provide full parental rights to the child to the non-birth mother in this instance, meaning if the couple gets divorced, the two parents should be on equal “legal” ground, regardless of who technically gave birth to the child. However, it is a process (compared to a parent automatically being listed on a birth certificate); the couple has to seek out the adoption from the court, and once the judge enters the final judgment, it gets filed with the court’s office. This then triggers the issuance of a new birth certificate for the child, which lists both individuals as the child’s parents.

As a result, many same-sex couples—especially those individuals who are not giving birth to the child—have to endure a significant amount of unease before and during the birth process because if something happens to the birth mother and the adoption is not yet complete, the individual not giving birth lacks any and all legal rights over the child.

While Florida recently changed its policy on how birth certificates for women with female spouses read—listing the biological mother’s spouse in the spot where the “father” was traditionally listed—unfortunately, these birth certificates are only legally binding in Florida, which can make things very difficult if the couple moves or divorces/one person moves out of state. This change—made by Florida’s Bureau of Vital Statistics—was more of an attempt to address the issue until the Florida legislature enacts laws granting same-sex couples full-parental rights when their child is born.

Florida Same-Sex Family Law Attorney

The law office of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale is proud to serve same-sex couples seeking custody rights over their own child, as well as with all areas of family law. Contact us today and we can get started helping you.

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