The first point family lawyer Colleen Quinn wants same-sex families to know is just because you’re married doesn’t mean your spouses child is now yours.
While Monday’s Supreme Court non-decision allowed same-sex marriages to commence here in the Commonwealth, that doesn’t mean all the dominos fell into place for the children involved.
“Same-sex married couples can now do adoptions together – simultaneously together,” said Quinn clarifying how the law has changed from before Monday’s news. “Same-sex couples who are married, where one is the biological/legal parent of the child, a step-parent adoption can now happen for the other spouse.”
Prior to Monday, Virginia law required two people to be “married” for an adoption to occur, this kept adoption out of reach for same sex couples.
But now, with the lack of gender specific language, step-parent adoption, or second parent adoption, is now much easier.
“Because same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in VA, you couldn’t have a second parent adoption, or you couldn’t simultaneously adopt a child,” said Qinn.
This is the same process straight couples need to go through to adopt a child from a previous marriage, or when they adopt a new child all together.
But the adoption process is still not guaranteed, and legalese stands between same-sex parents and legal parenting. “This is not like going to court and showing up with a name change form,” said Quinn. “This is something you’re going to have to get a lawyer to file for you.”
Quinn, with the Richmond-based law firm Locke and Quinn, also fears there are still some judges who might try and exercise their personal judgements with some couples, and could try and deny the adoptions at their discretion.