Is the Adoption Process Different for Same-Sex Couples in Texas?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Jimmy Vaught with Vaught Law Firm LLC..
Legal adoption is an important part of parentage for any family, allowing both parents to have equal rights to the child regardless of biological relation. Adoption for same-sex parents has traditionally been a tricky process in Texas, but it’s become simpler in recent years.
In the past, same-sex parents were required to file as two single parents adopting jointly, requiring six months of wait time between each individual adoption. Same-sex couples can now adopt jointly like any other couple, providing they are legally married. Unmarried couples—same-sex or otherwise—are still required to adopt individually.
Same-sex married couples in Texas can now file jointly for adoption.
This change has erased the need for two sets of paperwork and individual wait times lasting upwards of a year before the adoption is finalized. Additionally, this change allows same-sex parents to both put their names on a child’s birth certificate, regardless of gender. Birth certifications for adoptions made prior to this change in procedure can now be amended to reflect the names of both parents by contacting the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) or reaching out to an experienced family law attorney for help getting the necessary documentation in order.
Similarly, for same-sex couples choosing assisted reproduction, as long as the couple is married prior to the birth, the names of both spouses can be included on the birth certificate. This rule also applies to heterosexual couples choosing assisted reproduction.
Same-sex couples that are not married can still adopt but will have to follow the traditional method.
Just as both members of a heterosexual couple who are not married must file independently for adoption, same-sex unmarried couples must do the same. For same-sex couples, this has traditionally been the procedure regardless of marital status, but now only applies without valid proof of marriage. Same-sex unmarried couples choosing to adopt should prepare for one parent and then the other to go through the same application and approval process for adoption, with each step taking approximately six months each, although it could take longer.
However, it’s important to note that Texas also has unique rules regarding common law marriage, and when a couple may be considered legally married even without an official ceremony or marriage license. If you suspect that you and your partner qualify as common law married and are considering adoption, talk to an LGBTQ family law attorney to discuss your options for filing.
To learn more about adoption for same-sex couples in the state of Texas, or to discuss your legal status as a married couple, reach out to an LGBTQ adoption lawyer in the state.