This week, Governor Cuomo signed into law a much needed amendment to the adoption law which makes it possible for adoptions to go forward for married couples in New York, regardless of whether the parentage is already legally recognized by NY State!

This law “fixes” the issue many LGBTQ married couples were experiencing because many judges, especially in Queens County, were not granting second parent adoptions if the couple was married at the time of the child’s birth since a child born to a married couple is presumed to be a child of both parents. This amendment to the existing adoption law now allows our families’ adoptions to go forward, even in Queens, to ensure that extra layer of protection so that parenting rights are “portable” as families travel from state to state or internationally.

The law amends the adoption statute to state as follows:

“A petition to adopt… where the petitioner’s parentage is legally-recognized under New York State law shall not be denied solely on the basis that the petitioner’s parentage is already legally recognized.”

This is welcome news for LGBTQ families! Here are some of the reasons why a second or step parent adoption is advisable:

  • There is a known donor who supplied either the egg or the sperm, and the parents (and/or the known donor) would feel more secure if the donor’s rights were legally terminated through the adoption process;
  • The family travels periodically or frequently to countries that do not recognize marriage between same sex couples or travel to states that continue to be hostile towards LGBTQ families and/or do not recognize the non-biological same sex spouse’s right to be a parent;
  • Inheritance rights for the children of LGBTQ families may be at risk because a relative’s Will or Trust document limits the children of beneficiaries to biological or adopted children.

~ Carol L. Buell, Esq.