District of Columbia laws reflect a policy that favors extending parental rights to same-sex couples with children. Through recent expansions in the law, it is increasingly likely that same-sex couples with children will have the legal rights of both parents recognized under law.
The law now provides that if two women are married or are registered as domestic partners or sign a consent to parent and their child is born in the District, then DC law will recognize the child as the legal child of both parents.
Note that this law does not extend to male same-sex couples. Obviously, a man cannot bear a child, and therefore he must use a gestational surrogate to bear his child. However, DC law makes surrogacy illegal, and so the law protecting parentage does not extend to male same-sex couples.
Furthermore, because of a recent amendment to DC’s Parentage Act, beginning on March 13, 2013, DC courts will have the power to grant an adoption to any child who is born in the District of Columbia, even if the family does not reside in DC! In other words, even if you live outside of DC, so long as your child was born in DC, a DC court will have the power to grant an adoption. This is primarily of value to Virginia residents, who cannot obtain a second-parent adoption in Virginia. Therefore, if a Virginia family plans carefully so that the baby is born in DC, a DC court will be able to grant a second-parent adoption to that family. We expect that this will also be of value to West Virginia families. (Second-parent adoption is permitted in Pennsylvania and Delaware.)
Lippman, Semsker & Salb has actively served gay and lesbian clients for decades, addressing the community’s unique needs in family formation, domestic relations, estate planning, and employment issues. Combined with our skill and experience in these fields of practice, we are uniquely equipped to serve gay and lesbian families.
If you have any questions about your family’s legal rights, please let us know.