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Supreme Court Favors Lesbian Adoptive Mother’s Visitation Rights

On December 14th, the United States Supreme Court sided with an adoptive parent who split from her lesbian partner, the birth mother of the three children, in restoring her visitation rights. In doing so, the court stayed a decision made by the Alabama Supreme Court, which refused to recognize the woman’s adoption of the three children in 2007, disregarding the full faith and credit of another state’s judgment.

In this specific case, the couple had raised three children together for the last 13 years (since their birth) after being together a total of 17 years. When visitation disputes arose, the non-birth mother/adoptive parent was granted visitation by a Georgia court, but this was reversed by the Alabama Supreme Court, claiming that Georgia never should have allowed the adoption in the first place because the couple was not married and the parental rights of the “current parents” had not yet been “terminated.”

Blatant Discrimination

Specifically, in one opinion, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Moore stated that the “homosexual conduct of one parent” is sufficient alone to deny parental custody and/or prohibit adoption. In a concurrence, the court arguably made an additional discriminatory statement by claiming that “the state has a legitimate interest” in ensuring that children are “adopted into the optimal family structure, i.e., one with both a father and mother.” The Alabama Court is the first to refuse to recognize another state’s (Georgia’s) judgment allowing a child’s adoption by one parent in a same-sex couple.

In The Children’s Best Interests

The court-appointed attorney representing the three children involved in the case asked the court to restore the adoptive mother’s visitation rights, citing the “pernicious harm” that the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision was doing by disrupting the children’s best interests and the home life/arrangement they were used to after 10-12 years.

Know Your Rights

“LGBT adoption” is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender individuals. Although the law varies from state to state, it usually either allows for joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of the other partner’s biological children (for a same-sex couple), and/or adoption by a single LGBT individual. The state of Florida does permit single LGBT individuals to petition to adopt a child; however, it does not yet permit a same-sex couple to jointly petition to adopt.

Florida LGBT & LGBT Adoption Attorney

It is often crucial to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights as an adoptive parent—regardless of orientation—are protected. Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. is proud to serve LGBT communities in family law and adoption issues, and is available to help. We support all prospective parents and their wishes of having a family by adopting. Contact us today to get started.

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