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New Hampshire Expands Access to Parentage Protections

A bill critical to ensuring expanded access to adoption, particularly for children of LGBTQ parents, became law yesterday when signed by Governor Sununu. Provisions in the new law, HB 1162, ensure that unmarried parents can adopt children; that LGBTQ parents can confirm their parentage through adoption; and that children born through assisted reproduction can have their parental relationships secured through a court judgment of parentage. A legal parent-child relationship provides a foundation for the well-being of children, and through that core relationship numerous rights and responsibilities flow, including care, financial support, and health insurance, as well as custody, parenting time, and decision making.

“Children born to unmarried and LGBTQ parents, and children born through assisted reproduction, all need and deserve to have their parentage protected and respected in every jurisdiction,” said Chris Erchull, GLAD Staff Attorney. “This critical legislation creates access to the protections of parentage for more New Hampshire children. We’re grateful to the leadership of Representative Ed Butler, to all in the House and Senate who supported the bill, and to Governor Sununu for ensuring it became law.”

“All children deserve to be protected by a secure legal connection to their parents,” said Polly Crozier, Senior Staff Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. “Parentage laws across the country are still catching up to the realities of how families are formed today. More and more states, including nearby Rhode Island which just this week enacted comprehensive parentage reform, are recognizing the need to provide more fair and equal access to parentage. With HB 1162 now signed into law, New Hampshire fills some key remaining holes in protections for children and families in the state.”

“Establishing the bond of parentage – the legal connection between a child and their parents – is core to a child’s stability and security,” said Attorney Chrissy Hanisco, adoption and assisted reproduction practitioner at the Stein Law Firm, PLLC. “All New Hampshire children deserve to have access to that security, whether born through donor conception or if they lost parents from the opioid crisis or other circumstances. Adoption is one important route to create legally-affirmed parent-child relationships. This law removes outdated barriers to adoption and parentage judgments that have for too long left some children and families vulnerable, with no path to establish that critical connection.”

A collaborative team of Attorney Chrissy Hanisco, GLAD and the ACLU of New Hampshire worked in conjunction with legislative champion Ed Butler on HB. 1162 through a legislative session made unpredictable due to COVID-19. “We appreciate so much the hard work of Rep. Butler to ensure this bill, which is so important to children and families, was still prioritized despite the difficulties of the pandemic,” added Hanisco. “The passage of this bill feels like a fitting and successful end as Rep. Butler prepares to leave the legislature after this session.”