Same-Sex Adoption for Unmarried Couples
According to the 2010 Census, approximately 27% of Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ population is raising children. Moreover, according to Allies for Adoption, same-sex couples are four times more likely to be raising an adopted child.
Same-sex couples are six times more likely to raise foster children.
Considering that there are approximately 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, helping parents in the LGBTQ community understand which areas have same-sex couple friendly laws and helping them understand their rights is an important task for equality.
Alternatives for LGBTQ and Adoption
Most LGBTQ couples in Pennsylvania that are raising a child together are married. With that said, some couples chose not to get married and others may divorce. Establishing parental rights of an adopted child under either of those circumstances is important.
Other considerations for adoption that unmarried same-sex couples in Pennsylvania can consider include:
• Second-parent Adoption
• Joint Adoption
Second-Parent Adoption in PA
A common scenario that many same-sex couples face is one, or both, partners in a relationship have children, and one partner wants the other to become their child’s adoptive parent. Second-parent adoption allows a parent in a same-sex relationship to adopt his or her partner’s child.
Same-sex adoption gives the child two sets of parents who have established parental rights under Pennsylvania law. Unlike stepparent adoption, second-parent adoption does not require marriage.
Pennsylvania is one of fifteen (15) states and D.C. that allows LGBT parents to petition for second-parent adoption.
Joint Adoption in PA
Joint adoption allows LGBT parents to adopt a child together. Some laws require the parents to be married, but in general, joint adoption does not require marriage. Pennsylvania, along with the rest of the United States, allows LGBT couples to petition for joint adoption. While some states have laws that allow child welfare adoption agency to deny a couple the ability to adopt based on religious beliefs, P.A. does not.
Find an Attorney for Same-Sex Adoption in Chester County, PA
Remember, once an adoption is final, all parental rights afforded to natural parents are then available to the adoptive parents. Adoption means having the ability to make healthcare, education, and visitation decisions regarding a child.
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The Morning Call reported on September 7 that Kathleen Kane, the former Pennsylvania Attorney General who resigned after being convicted of illegally leaking grand jury documents and lying about her actions, filed a petition immediately seeking $1 million from her estranged husband. Kane contends she should receive about $6 million in marital assets in the divorce, and she claimed she needed “a partial distribution of joint assets held by Christopher Kane to pay her attorney’s fees as she prepares for her sentencing and appeal of her conviction on charges of perjury and several other offenses,” according to the Morning Call.
Kathleen Kane’s petition stated that she is now unemployed and has no income other than the $19,000 in alimony and child support Christopher pays. Kathleen’s attorney told the Morning Call that financial records showed that Christopher Kane received more than $8.1 million from his family’s trucking firm, Kane Is Able, and related entities between 2013 and 2015, and he is expected to receive about $1 million this year from the companies.
The Morning Call described Kathleen’s filing as “the latest in a contentious divorce proceeding” she filed in December 2014. A judge previously ordered Christopher to pay Kathleen $100,000 in marital assets after she accused him of improperly draining about $1 million from a joint investment account without her knowledge.
Christopher, meanwhile, filed a motion earlier this year seeking to halt alimony payments because he says Kathleen intentionally delayed resolution of their divorce. According to the Morning Call, he also alleged that Kathleen spent roughly $500,000 of campaign funds to pay her defense fees prior to her trial.
A hearing to determine the amount of alimony Christopher should to pay was set for September 21. A hearing on the petition for partial distribution of assets and the dispute over financial records was set for September 23.
Lawyer for Equitable Distribution in West Chester, PA Divorce Cases
Under 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. 3502, courts are required to “equitably divide, distribute or assign, in kind or otherwise, the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct in such percentages and in such manner as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors” upon the request of either party in an action for divorce or annulment. When a couple seeking a divorce has a particularly high net worth, it can make the process of equitable distribution much more complex and contentious.
Equitable distribution does not mean that a court necessarily has to somehow determine a perfect 50/50 split of all assets involved in a marriage. It only applies to marital property, which is property or assets obtained during the marriage. Personal property obtained before the marriage or certain aspects of one partner’s situation (such as sole custody of children) can impact the amount of property that is awarded to one spouse as opposed to the other.
If you are contemplating divorce in southeastern Pennsylvania, you do not want to have to deal with any additional and unnecessary stress as it relates to a fair distribution of assets. Contact a West Chester divorce lawyer to get legal help advocating for the property that is yours and fighting for the assets you deserve.
The process of divorce is different for someone who has obtained a same-sex marriage or civil union in a state that permits them. Pennsylvania does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions, so if you and your spouse are of the same gender, married or civilly joined in one or more states that allow it, and are seeking a divorce, you may wonder if this is possible under Pennsylvania law?
The answer, as the current law stands, is no. In Pennsylvania marriage is defined in 23 Pa.C.S. § 1102 as “a civil contract by which one man and one woman take each other for husband and wife.” This definition was introduced by the 1996 state constitutional amendment, Act 124. In 2010, a Berks County court refused to grant a divorce to a Pennsylvania same-sex couple married in Massachusetts on the grounds that it would have to recognize their marriage first, which would violate this amendment. Therefore, same-sex spouses who are residents of Pennsylvania but married in another state can’t currently seek a divorce in the Pennsylvania court system.
Since the states that do allow marriages or civil unions within their boundaries also often have a residency requirement for divorce, and since same-sex spouses can’t seek divorce in Pennsylvania, this leaves many gay and lesbian couples legally bound by those states to a marriage they no longer want any part of. Additionally, with the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still in place and no promises of it being fully overturned by the Supreme Court in late June, these same-sex spouses are also left with no federal resolution. This is the definition of being wedlocked.
In March of this year, the Supreme Court heard the arguments of two key cases that may change this on a federal level, a state level, or both. The first case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, addresses the issue of Proposition 8 in California, while the second case, United States v. Windsor could address the constitutionality of DOMA. When these cases are decided in late June of this year, there may be a resulting solution for married or civilly joined gay and lesbian couples to obtain a divorce.
Until there does exist either a federal or state-level divorce solution for resident Pennsylvania same-sex couples, they can either choose to remain wedlocked in the state or states they are married in or meet the residency requirements for divorce – which can be anywhere from 90 days to 2 years. The legal landscape regarding the issue of LGBT divorce is constantly changing, and some states allowing the marriages or unions may offer an out-of-state solution for your divorce.
If you are facing the complexities of needing a same-sex divorce in a state you don’t’ live in, you can sift through the statutes, precedents, and policies of each equal marriage rights state on your own to determine if there is a divorce solution for your wedlocked Pennsylvania same-sex marriage – but you don’t have to. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer can help seek such a solution for you.