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Legal Considerations for LGBT Parents and Their Children

For nonbiological parents, particularly in LGBT families, legalizing your relationship with your child is a crucial step in protecting your parental rights. The most effective way for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) parents to achieve this is through adoption. By adopting, you gain the same legal recognition and responsibilities for the child as a biological parent.

The Path of Second Parent Adoption

If you’re an LGBT individual in a relationship with the child’s adoptive parent, second-parent adoption is a viable route to establish your legal parental status. This process allows you to become a legal parent without altering your partner’s existing rights. Although no appellate cases directly address this in Texas, local counties have acknowledged the legality of such adoptions for LGBT families under Texas adoption laws.

It’s advisable to seek guidance from a family law attorney familiar with second-parent adoption. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, is an excellent resource for this specialized legal procedure.

Successful LGBT Adoption Cases

In Travis County’s case of Goodson v. Castellanos, a same-sex female couple pursued joint adoption. When they separated, the validity of the second-parent adoption was upheld in court, demonstrating the enduring legal strength of such adoptions. Another case in Harris County confirmed this precedent, illustrating the resilience of second-parent adoptions in the legal system.

Alternatives to Adoption: SAPCR

Other than adoption, a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) can grant you certain rights regarding a child, including custody and visitation, even if you’re not the legal parent. However, this does not confer all parental rights, such as inheritance or Social Security benefits. Adoption remains the preferred method for ensuring comprehensive parental rights.

Texas SAPCR Case Law

The case of In re Smith in Beaumont highlights the challenges of SAPCR for same-sex couples. When the biological mother contested the rights granted to her partner, the court ruled the nonbiological parent ineligible to initiate the SAPCR case due to not meeting the required custody duration under Texas law.

While adoption and SAPCR are common, their outcomes are not always predictable due to the lack of specific provisions in the Texas Family Code. Parenting agreements, though not establishing legal parenthood, can formalize a caregiving relationship with a child. Such agreements should be detailed, outlining responsibilities, support, and adoption plans.

Regarding medical decisions, non-legal parents may face barriers in accessing a child’s medical records or providing consent for treatment. A legally recognized parent can authorize their partner for these decisions, and keeping this authorization is prudent for emergencies.

Navigating parental rights in an LGBT relationship requires knowledge of the law and the legal system. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney is essential for understanding your rights and achieving your objectives.

Consultation Services at Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

For any questions about LGBT parental rights or Texas family law, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC offers free consultations. Our attorneys and staff are dedicated to providing exceptional legal services and guidance on family law matters.

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