What Can Parents Do?
CONTACT knowledgeable lawyers in your community to establish the best legal recognition possible in your state.
State law – and not federal law – determines who is a parent and each state has its own set of laws. And even people joined in marriage, civil union or domestic partnership (in states where the statuses are available) need to take additional steps to protect their children because those statuses could change and also may not be recognized in other states.
- In states where second parent adoption or parentage judgements are available, all non-biological parents should take one of these steps. This is the best way to ensure that you will be recognized as a parent nationwide.
- If you cannot adopt or get a parentage judgement it may be possible for you to do a co-guardianship or parent agreement through the courts.
- If you cannot adopt or get a parentage judgement, you should:
- Be sure the biological or adoptive parent writes a will naming you as guardian for the child in the event of the parent’s death.
- Be sure the biological or adoptive parent signs an authorization for you to consent to medical care.
- Enter into a written agreement clarifying your intention to jointly parent your children.
We want LGBT families and their children to be protected and are fighting every day to create the means to do so in every state in the nation. Find out what you can do in your state. Go to the websites of organizations like GLAD; National Center for Lesbian Rights; Lambda Legal; the ACLU; the National LGBT Bar Association; Family Task Force; and COLAGE to find more information and resources.
We believe (as with ducks) that if it looks like a family, if it holds itself out as a family, and if it functions like a family, then it is a family. But this position may not be respected in all states, so please do what you can to protect your children and your family now.