Ask the Lawyer: Impacts on Parentage


Due to same-sex marriage being recognized in Pennsylvania, gay parents now may be able to establish parentage of their children through marriage by the presumption of paternity (parentage) of a child born or conceived during the course of a marriage.

Historically, second-parent adoptions, the adoption of a child by the unmarried partner of a biological parent with other parent not losing parental rights, were available for same-sex parents in Pennsylvania to create a legal parent and child relationship with the second parent subject to full, faith and credit from other jurisdictions, bringing with it rights and benefits such as inheritance, physical and legal custody and child support.

For same-sex couples who are married, step-parent adoptions are now filed instead of second-parent adoptions. Pennsylvania will allow a parent to adopt their spouses’ child and this adoption will be recognized in every State regardless of whether the State would have allowed the adoption to be completed within its borders. The step-parent adoption creates a legal parent/child relationship with the second parent and while many States may not recognize a parent/child relationship that is based on a birth certificate or same-sex marriage alone, every State must recognize an adoption decree and provide it with full, faith and credit.

Dorota Gasienica-Kozak, Esquire,
Chair of the KingSpry Adoption/ART Law Practice Group

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