With many states now recognizing same-sex marriages, my clients frequently ask me do I still need to adopt my son or daughter since we are legally married. The short answer is unfortunately yes you do.
While many states have recognized same-sex marriages, Pennsylvania at least has not recognized a presumption of parentage for same-sex married couples. This means that the non-biological parent does not have the same rights with regard to their child as the birth parent.
It is important for some-sex couples to go through the adoption process for all of their children for two important reasons. The first reason to go through an adoption is to ensure that both parents have the same custody rights with regard to the child or children. At this point in the evolution of the law, same-sex couples are not on equal footing in custody court absent an adoption.
Second, an adoption is important for Estate Planning purposes. Without an adoption, the child of the non-biological parent is considered an unrelated individual for all estate planning purposes. This does not mean you cannot leave your estate to your child. It just means that there will be more estate tax involved.
At MacElree Harvey, we have had the privilege of helping many same-sex couples adopt their children. It is actually one of the few happy and joyous occasions in Court. If you have any questions concerning same-sex adoptions, please do not hesitate to contact us.