It has been five years since Rhode Island legalized same-sex marriage. However, many Rhode Island LGBTQ advocates feel that there are still other rights related to families and parenting that still need to be won. A big concern involves the way that parental rights are bestowed in the state and how that affects same-sex couples.
Reproductive technology has come a long way in the last decade, and the law is having a hard time keeping up. Reproductive technology includes in vitro fertilization, donor sperm, intra uterine insemination and/or surrogacy. Many states have laws that address some aspects of reproductive technology. Rhode Island is one of the few states that has no laws that cover these issues.
Generally, if someone gives birth and they are married, then their spouse is the presumed father of the child and will have legal parentage rights to the child automatically. Similarly, if the mother of the child is not married, the father of the child can also be deemed the legal parent of the child with all the attendant rights by acknowledging paternity. In either case, the law makes it easy for fathers to be given parental rights to their children. Keep in mind that these apply even when the father is not the biological father of the child or reproductive technology has been used. However, with same-sex parenting couples, it is a little different.
Typically, when a same-sex couple has a child, only one of the parents can be a biological parent to the child. (Though this is not always the case, especially if one or both of the parents is transgender.) Some same-sex couples may also adopt, but the legal process for that typically situates the same-sex parents similarly as opposite sex couples. In other words, whether the couple is a same-sex couple or an opposite-sex couple, both parents need to go through the legal adoption process.
Uniform Parentage Act
There is a law proposed in Rhode Island that would treat same-sex couples more like opposite sex couples when it comes to parentage and assisted reproductive technology. The law is called the Uniform Parentage Act and it has several provisions that would help make it easier for both members of a same-sex couples to have parental rights to their children. The law would allow same-sex partners of biological mothers to also be recognized as a parent right away through a voluntary acknowledgement of parentage. This would be similar to the voluntary acknowledge of paternity described above.
In other words, the intended parents of the child would be recognized as the parents of the child as soon as it is born. For example, let’s say a woman uses a sperm donor to get pregnant and she is in a same-sex relationship and the couple intends to parent together. This law would allow the other parent to have the ability to be given parental rights to the child at the same time as the biological mother. Now, typically the non-biological parent would need to do some kind of second parent adoption which is a more complicated legal process.
Contact One of Our Experienced Rhode Island Family Law Attorneys Today!
Whether you are in a same sex couple, opposite sex couple, or plan to parent by yourself, adopting a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. That’s why it is so important to work with a knowledgeable Rhode Island family law attorney. The attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC can help you with the legal process of building your family. Use the form on this website to contact us or call (401) 300-4055 to set up your free consultation today!
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