Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Adoption gives legal status to baby's second mom

I've mentioned here before that post-Obergefell, there is considerable uncertainty about "the traditional parental presumption that a child born [or maybe adopted] during marriage is the child of the spouse." This Florida news story explores how that worked for one married couple:

[Becky] Stephenson's wife, Viktoria Gerth-Stephenson, 26, gave birth to Maverick on April 21 after becoming pregnant through intrauterine insemination. Though same-sex marriage has been legal in Florida since Jan. 6, 2015, at that time the state did not allow the female spouse of a woman giving birth to be listed as the second parent on a birth certificate.

That policy required the Winter Haven couple to pursue a legal process typically used by a stepfather seeking to adopt his wife's children. . . .

Christopher Roy, a Winter Haven lawyer, handled the application that culminated in Monday's final adoption hearing, which took less than 10 minutes.

* * *

Roy said he would file the final judgment record with the Clerk of the Courts office. That will trigger the issuance of a new birth certificate listing both women as Maverick's parents.

Gerth-Stephenson displayed Maverick's original birth certificate from the state, which included the printed line: “Mother refuses information on husband.”

* * *

Roy said he waived his fees for representing the women. He said a typically charge for the stepparent adoption process would be about $2,500.

“If this was a husband and wife, it never would have had to happen because the husband would have automatically been on the birth certificate, whether it was his biological child or not,” Roy said.

* * *

Florida's Bureau of Vital Statistics recently changed its policy on birth certificates for women with female spouses. The office lists the biological mother's spouse in the traditional “father” spot, but Roy said those birth certificates are legally binding only in Florida.

Roy said he expects the Florida Legislature will eventually enact laws granting same-sex spouses full parental rights at birth, though he said he doubts that change will happen soon.


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