LGBT Parents and the Law: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Family
In September 2011, the QLaw Foundation sponsored a panel to help LGBT Parents understand legal protections available for their families. With the Support of a Pride Foundation grant, and the Access to Justice Institute at Seattle University School of Law, a video of the panel is now available online for families all throughout Washington to have access to information to protect their families. Check out this video of “LGBT Parents and the Law: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Family” available through Seattle U's Access to Justice Media Law Index: ATJI/QLaw LGBT Parenting Workshop, (09/27/2011)
The event featured presentations by three of Washington’s leading legal experts on LGBT family law. Raegen Rasnic began the evening by discussing how to start or grow a family through adoption, assisted reproductive technology, or surrogacy. Next, Janet Helson explained how LGBT parents can legally establish and protect their parental rights. Finally, Patricia Novotny covered options for parents and children if a relationship ends. The event was moderated by Jennie Laird, the QLaw Foundation’s President-elect.
After their presentations, the panelists took questions from the nearly 60 community members in the audience. Questions ranged from how to complete a second-parent adoption, what documents parents should keep with them to protect their rights when they travel, and how to make sure that both partners are included on a child’s birth certificate.
Some key takeaways from the event:
- Take Legal Steps Now To Protect Your Family: The law’s treatment of LGBT parents is complicated, rapidly changing, and varies widely from state-to-state. As a result, it’s critically important for LGBT parents to plan ahead and to take legal steps to protect the rights of both parents. To protect your children and to avoid the emotional and financial drain if there is ever a parenting dispute, take these legal steps at the front end of your relationship. “I’m too busy” is not an excuse.
- Second-Parent Adoptions Are Still Strongly Recommended for LGBT Parents: A recent change in Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act now makes it clear that when couples in a state-registered domestic partnership have a child together, both partners are legally presumed to be the child’s parents under Washington state law. This is a very important change, and will help protect parent-child relationships in Washington. But because other states may not recognize Washington’s law, LGBT couples are still strongly advised to complete a second-parent adoption to protect the rights of the non-biological parent throughout the country.
- Let’s Play Fair With Each Other: When LGBT couples have custody disputes, we need to keep in mind that any case that goes to court can establish bad law for countless other families. If couples have a dispute, don’t support those who try to “ex out” another parent from their child’s life by making homophobic arguments, or by trying to take advantage of the law’s often unequal treatment of same-sex parents.
Co-Sponsors include Legal Voice, who also played a major role in assisting with organization and publicity; the ACLU of Washington, Lambda Legal, and Equal Rights Washington.
All information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. The Qlaw Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donate here.