Despite the tremendous progress the LGBT movement has made in the last few decades, substantial misconceptions still remain regarding the rights of LGBT individuals and couples concerning adoption.
In Minnesota, when a child is born to a married couple of different genders, the child is presumed under law to be the offspring of the father and mother. If that presumption is disputed by the father, mother, or a third party, the party challenging that presumption has the burden of proving their case. Legal adoption of a non-biological child establishes a legal relationship between the child and the non-biological parent, and puts the adoptive parent on precisely the same legal plane as the biological parent.
In 2013, after Minnesota began recognizing same-sex marriage, a new avenue for adoption was established for same-sex couples: step-parent adoptions. This method, prior to the state’s recognition of same-sex marriage, was exclusively available to married couples of different genders.
Before Minnesota recognized same-sex marriage the only option available to same-sex couples was second-parent adoptions. In a second-parent adoption, a party unrelated by marriage establishes parental rights to a minor child. To complete a second-parent adoption successfully in Minnesota, the party must get permission from the court to file the adoption petition.
Although the Minnesota Department of Health, under certain circumstances, will list two same-sex spouses on the birth record of a child born to one of the spouses during the marriage, just being listed on the birth record as a parent does not establish a legal relationship. An adoption process is still recommended by many attorneys to assure that the non-biological parent's relationship to the child is legally recognized.
It is imperative that same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, with minor children address the issue of adoption. In the event the legal parent becomes deceased, the surviving non-legal parent will have no rights to visitation, custody, or decision making. In the event of separation or divorce, the non-legal parent will have no rights to custody or decision making. It should be noted that the legal parent would also have no right to seek child support from the non-legal parent.
However, under Minnesota law, any adult who has lived with a child for at least two years in a parent-child-like arrangement can seek visitation of that child if the couple terminates its relationship. The Minnesota Supreme Court has previously applied this law to unmarried, same-sex partners.
At Mundahl Law we work to protect the parental rights of LGBT individuals. If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or non-cis considering adopting, contact Mundahl Law today to schedule a consultation with our experienced family law attorneys. We care about your family.