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Parental Rights and Same-Sex Couples

Ohio has thousands of same-sex couples who have welcomed a child into their home either by birth or adoption.  Prior to the recent Supreme Court decision granting the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples, the child of a same-sex couple could have only one parent under Ohio law.  Now, a same-sex couple will be permitted to jointly adopt a child.

However, what should a couple do if one spouse has already adopted a child or is the biological parent of child?  First, the parties will need to marry.  Under Ohio law, a married adult can adopt the child of his or her spouse under the "step-parent" clause of the Ohio adoption statute.  Once married, the parent will need to petition the probate court for a "step-parent" adoption.  

The consequences could be devastating if a same-sex couple does not utilize the "step-parent" adoption procedures.  If the relationship deteriorates and the couple separates or divorces, the nonbiological parent or non-adopting parent could have no parental rights over the children.  The court could treat the nonbiological parent or non-adopting parent as a complete stranger to the child.  Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that a gay or lesbian couple with a child use the "step-parent" adoption procedures.  

We welcome you to call Randal A. Lowry & Associates at (330) 929-0507 to consult with us regarding your Ohio step-parent adoption matters. Our Akron-area family law attorneys serve clients throughout Summit, Medina, Portage, Stark and Cuyahoga counties.

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