Guidance on same-sex couples adopting

Do you have questions about your rights as a same-sex couple with children?

Since the Obergefell decision in June, married same-sex couples can adopt children in Nebraska, through either a joint adoption or step-parent adoption. However, the state of Nebraska has been dragging its feet on providing children born to married same-sex couples with birth certificates naming both spouses as parents. As part of the suit seeking to abolish the law against same-sex marriage in Nebraska, it was revealed the state is currently moving to change the birth certificate form to allow for same-sex parents to be listed. This temporary situation should not be a barrier to same-sex couples seeking to adopt.

Even when proper birth certificates are made available, the ACLU of Nebraska is recommending that same-sex couples use step-parent adoption to secure the non-biological parent’s legal relationship with their child.

The ACLU of Nebraska has provided the following FAQs and answers about your adoption rights as a same-sex couple:

FAQs About Adoption

My same-sex partner and I got married. Am I now automatically a legal parent of my spouse’s biological child?
If the child was born prior to your marriage, the only way to establish legal parentage for the non-biological parent is through a step-parent adoption. If the child was born after your marriage, we still recommend doing a step-parent adoption, which provides the greatest protection both at home and if you travel to other states.

What is a step-parent adoption?
Under Nebraska law, you can adopt your spouse’s child if the child doesn’t already have two legal parents. You must be legally married to the child’s parent in order to adopt the child.
What is the basic process for adopting my spouse’s biological child?
Adoption can be a complicated process. It involves completing and filing the adoption documents in court. It may also involve a home-study, getting consent forms and attending hearings, depending on the particular situation. An attorney is probably necessary to help you navigate the adoption process.
My same-sex partner and I have adopted together already from another state. Is it a valid adoption in Nebraska?
Yes. The Nebraska Supreme Court has held that an adoption order from another state will be recognized in this state. You don’t have to take any additional steps.
My same-sex partner has a child from a former relationship. Can I adopt the child?
Not without the consent of the other parent; if the child’s other parent is willing to relinquish their rights – or if a court terminates their rights – you can adopt.
Where do we find an attorney to help complete the adoption process?
To access a list of adoption lawyers in Nebraska who are supportive of same-sex couples that are available for hire, please visit www.outlinc.org. If you are indigent and cannot afford to hire an attorney, call the Nebraska Volunteer Lawyers Project at 1-800-927-0117. If you meet their income guidelines, you may be matched with a volunteer attorney.

 

For the entire list of Nebraska FAQs and a PDF version: http://aclunebraska.org/marriage_faq

For additional information on these and other issues: http://marriageequalityfacts.org/

As always, the ACLU of Nebraska legal intake team can be reached at gethelp@aclunebraska.org or 1-855-557-ACLU (2258) if a same-sex couple think their rights have been violated.

Lee FosterGuidance on same-sex couples adopting