GLAD Applauds Update to Maine Law Allowing Expanded Access to Voluntary Acknowledgments of Parentage

Governor Mills Signs LD 222, An Act to Update the Maine Parentage Act

June 11, 2021 (Augusta) — Governor Janet Mills has signed LD 222, An Act to Update the Maine Parentage Act. The law updates Maine’s parentage statute to expand access to Voluntary Acknowledgments of Parentage (VAP), a simple mechanism long available to establish parentage but previously inaccessible to many parents, including LGBTQ parents, in Maine. Federal law requires all states to provide a simple civil process for acknowledging parentage of a child at birth. This ensures that the protections and responsibilities of parentage attach as soon after birth as possible and ensures that both parents are reflected on a child’s birth certificate. A majority of children born to unmarried parents in the U.S. each year have their parentage established through a VAP, which is the equivalent of a court decree of parentage. A VAP is signed voluntarily and helps parents avoid the expense, delay and stress of litigation to establish parentage. LD 222, drafted by the Family Law Advisory Commission and introduced by lead sponsor Rep. Barbara Cardone, expands access to VAPs so that more children can be protected by this simple, administrative procedure. Genetic parents have always been able to establish parentage through a VAP, and this law expands access to that intended parents through assisted reproduction and presumed parents can sign VAPs to establish parentage of their children. Expanded access to the Voluntary Acknowledgments of Parentage is recommended by the Uniform Parentage Act of 2017. The UPA is model statutory language developed by the non-partisan Uniform Law Commission to ensure state parentage laws are constitutional and provide equal access to the security of legal parentage to all children, without regard to the gender or marital status of their parents. FLAC recommended substantially updating of Maine’s parentage laws in 2015, assisted by Mary Bonauto and others, and the legislature approved that recommendation and recognized through the Maine Parentage Act (MPA) the many ways in which families are formed. Although the MPA provided equal recognition of LGBTQ parents, it did not include access to VAPs. This bill updates Maine law to reflect the recommendations of UPA 2017 and to ensure greater access to parentage for children. “Having a secure legal relationship to their parents is fundamental to a child’s wellbeing and stability, and this update to the law makes that security accessible to more children in Maine,” said Polly Crozier, GLAD Senior Staff Attorney. “The VAP program is a straightforward means of establishing a child’s legal parentage from birth. Extending access to VAPs provides a fair, equitable and affordable means for LGBTQ parents to protect their children as close to birth as possible.” To date in addition to Maine, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington all allow LGBTQ parents to establish parentage through a VAP. Connecticut recently enacted the Connecticut Parentage Act that will make VAPs available to LGBTQ parents as of January 1, 2022. More information about VAPs can be found here.