With regards to children, Pennsylvania same-sex couples face a variety of unique legal issues. PA Family law comes into play because in order to start families many LGBT couples choose to adopt children. Those that choose to start families naturally also face legal issues because of the fact that the child is only biologically related to one of the parents. In order to be sure that both parents rights are protected, it is imperative that Pennsylvania LGBT couples that wish to start families, or who have recently started families via adoption, surrogate or egg or sperm donor, contact an Allegheny County Parental Rights Lawyer.
Same Sex Partner Adoptions in PA
Same sex couples can become parents in a variety of ways. For example, they can adopt a child from a third party or one of the partners in the same sex couple can give birth through the use of assisted reproduction including utilizing a third party sperm or egg donor.
Even if one partner is the biological parent or egg or sperm donor of the child, the other parent may not have any legal rights regarding that child in the event of the relationship ending either by choice or due to the death of a biological parent. This is true even if both parents have been actively involved in raising the child from its birth, living with the child, or financially supporting the child and the other parent. Same sex couples with children must take additional precautions, such as same sex partner adoptions, to ensure that both parent's rights are legally protected.
Under Pennsylvania law, gay and lesbian couples may participate in a second parent adoption. This allows the non-biological parent of the child to become a legal parent and establish rights which will be protected by law. In addition to protecting the non-biological parent's rights, adoption also protects the child because it awards the child the opportunity to have health insurance through the non-biological parent and grants the child inheritance rights in the event that the non-biological parent dies without a valid last will and testament.
PA Child Custody Actions For Same Sex Couples
There may be circumstances where the same-sex non-biological parent has not adopted the partner's minor children and the relationship comes to an end. In this circumstance, Pennsylvania law recognizes the rights of the same sex partner who is not the biological parent of minor children when the non-biological partner resided in the same household with the children and played a significant role in their upbringing. The non-biological parent who has acted as a parent to the minor children by providing emotional and financial support is deemed to stand in loco parentis to the minor children.
When a biological parent separates or divorces from their same sex partner and the biological parent refuses meaningful contact with the former partner, the former partner has the right to file a Pennsylvania Complaint for Custody and seek the legal recognition of the relationship with the minor children. If in loco parentis status is proven, the former partner has the right to seek visitation, partial custody, shared custody, and possibly even primary custody of the minor child if it is not in the best interest of the minor children to be in the care of the biological parent.
However, the former partner who seeks to establish their rights regarding the minor children of the biological parent must be aware that with the establishment of custody rights may come the obligation of financial support. Pennsylvania law has confirmed that the former partner who has established the in loco parentis status may owe an obligation for child support.
Contact our Pittsburgh Same-Sex Couples Lawyers
Our Pennsylvania attorneys have extensive experience in providing legal assistance LGBT individuals regarding same sex partner adoptions and other parenting relationships, as well as establishing custody rights of the former partner's minor children.
Telephone our Pittsburgh office at 412-281-9906, our Cranberry Township office at 724-776-9906, our Southpointe office at 724-436-5500, or toll free at 1-855-VARI-LAW (1-855-827-4529) to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our experienced Western PA & Pittsburgh family law lawyers. Our Pittsburgh law office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and evenings by appointment, our Southpointe office is open 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and our Cranberry Township office is open by appointment only.
Appointments may also be available at other meeting locations if special arrangements are made in advance with our office. Ask the secretary scheduling your appointment for details including appointment locations.
Our PA family law office routinely accepts cases in Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County. We accept cases in other Western PA counties such as Armstrong County, Erie County, Fayette County, Greene County, Somerset County and Venango County on a case-by-case basis.
To learn more about Pennsylvania same sex family laws click the preceding link to read appellate cases from the PA courts.