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Understanding Parenthood for Same-Sex Couples


How to Obtain Parenthood for Same-Sex Couples

Becoming a parent is one of the proudest moments of a person’s life. However, despite the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in 2015, same-sex couples still face certain hurdles when it comes to parental rights. Legal parenthood for same-sex couples is a hot topic for LGBTQ lawyers, same-sex couples, parents, and advocates not just in the state of Rhode Island, but all over the country as well. Today, we will discuss how same-sex couples can seek parenthood.

The Issues Same-Sex Couples Faced When Trying to Obtain Parenthood

The biggest problem that same-sex couples faced when seeking parenthood was the issue of paternity for unmarried couples. In Rhode Island, a paternity form was not gender-neutral until this recently, meaning only a father’s signature could be put down under the box marked father to establishing paternity. When an unmarried man and woman have a child, the man would sign this form to confirm his parentage. However, for many same-sex couples, this was not possible.

On July 21, 2020, Governor Raimondo signed the Rhode Island Uniform Parentage Act (RIUPA), legislation that updated the state’s paternity laws to ensure all Rhode Island children would have equal access to the security of legal parents. This legislation allows same-sex couples to establish parentage through what is known as a civil Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage, avoiding the co-parenting adoption process. This act also protects parentage for children born through assisted reproduction or surrogacy.

This law has not been updated for over 40 years and will go into effect on January 1, 2021.

The Rhode Island Uniform Parentage Act (RIUPA) Explained

Under the RIUPA, same-sex couples are treated more like heterosexual couples when it comes to parentage and assisted reproductive technology. The act contains several provisions that make it easier on same-sex couples to be parents and have parental rights to their children. The law also allows two female same-sex partners to be recognized as parents immediately after signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage as opposed to needing to go through the lengthy and complicated process of having to adopt their own child. Basically, a child’s intended parents are recognized as such once the child is born.

Polly Crozier, Senior Staff Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, issued the following statement about the act, “Parentage laws across the country are still catching up to the realities of how families are formed now, and the people most hurt by that are children. By eliminating discriminatory, costly, and invasive barriers and enacting comprehensive parentage reform, Rhode Island has said loud and clear that all children – whether they are born to LGBTQ parents; through assisted reproduction; or surrogacy, deserve to be protected in every jurisdiction by a secure legal connection to their parents.”

Contact One of Our Experienced Rhode Island Family Law Attorneys

If you have questions about any matters pertaining to same-sex couples in Rhode Island, it is advisable to speak with an experienced attorney familiar with such issues. As the RIUPA will go into effect at the beginning of 2021, parentage will still be obtained via adoption for some same-sex couples. If you cannot wait for the act to pass and want to determine what your parental rights and options are, do not hesitate to contact our firm.

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