Florida Still Not Recognizing Same-Sex Spouse on Birth Certificates
In spite of progress the country has made since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage equality, same-sex couples in Florida are still being denied the right to be listed on their child’s birth certificate without going through the process of stepparent adoption. Specifically, for a couple who has been married where one is carrying the couple’s child, the spouse’s name will not appear on the birth certificate; the spouse must, instead, go through stepparent adoption in order to obtain a “legal connection to the baby.”
What is especially frightening to many couples isn’t the additional expenses of the adoption process, but rather, the delay that is introduced, and the period during which the spouse has zero legal rights to the child, even if the biological parent becomes incapacitated or dies. In this sense, although same-sex couples in Florida gained the right to marry in January of 2015, they still face severe hurdles when it comes to creating a family (as opposed to their heterosexual counterparts).
As of now, when a same-sex couple’s child is born in Florida, only the biological mother’s name is listed on the birth certificate and the couple has to pursue a court order in order for the other parent to be recognized as an actual parent.
This isn’t the case in other states, as most changed their policies and began to issue birth certificates for same-sex couples listing both parents on the birth certificates after the U.S. Supreme Court’s monumental ruling. This also isn’t the case for married couples who have used in-vitro or artificial insemination in Florida, both of whom are presumed to be the parents of the child.
In order to address this, both a Senate bill (SB 1542) and House bill (HB 1151) have been introduced in the current session of the Florida Legislature. The bills would require that both spouses be listed as parents when Florida issues birth certificates.
Because the issue is urgent, several same-sex couples have still filed lawsuits arguing that they must be treated as equals when it comes to birth certificates. Even so, while most couples will need to speak with an attorney to obtain clarification, no legal action can be taken as of now until after the baby is born, and the adoption process can take three to six months and cost up to $3,500. What is particularly of concern is that if anything happens to the biological mother during the birth or before the adoption is finalized, her spouse would not have legal custody; instead, that custody would automatically default to the biological mother’s parents.
Florida LGBT Family Law/Rights Attorney
Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A., is proud to serve LGBT communities and assist with any and all aspects of family law legal challenges. If you are facing legal hurdles on the issue of child custody and/or stepparent adoption, contact our office today so that we can assist you.