U.S. and Texas laws have changed in recent years to allow the names of same-sex couples to appear as parents on their children’s birth certificates. However, because the law can change again and there is opposition in some quarters to LGBTQ+ civil rights, adoption is advisable to protect the parental rights of a child’s non-biological parent.
A Texas adoption attorney with Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., can help you protect your family. Our lawyers have provided legal help to thousands of individuals and families in Austin and throughout Texas over more than 50 years. Our team is committed to providing compassionate service as we advocate for our clients’ rights.
How Are Same-Sex Parents Listed on a Birth Certificate in Texas?
Under Texas Department of State Health Services guidelines, both members of a same-sex couple that is married may put their names on a child’s birth certificate. Texas Vital Statistics has revised their forms to allow for both parents, no matter their gender, to be listed on their child’s birth certificate.
Instead of mother or father, a Texas birth certificate application asks for the names of Parent 1 and Parent 2.
Same-sex adoption has been legal in Texas since the Supreme Court of the United States recognized same-sex marriage in 2015. In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed an Arkansas State Supreme Court decision that had barred same-sex married couples from having both spouses’ names listed on their children’s birth certificates.
Once you have adopted a child, you, as a non-biological parent, have the same rights and responsibilities with respect to the child as a biological parent. This protects your relationship to the child as well as the child’s relationship with you.
Birth Registration Procedures for Unmarried Same-Sex Couples
Unmarried same-sex couples can adopt in Texas. However, Texas State Health Services guidelines do not specifically address whether unmarried, same-sex partners may obtain a birth certificate with both parents’ names on it. It’s a good idea to seek the legal advice of a knowledgeable adoption attorney.
Gay and LBGTQ+ couples can still face hurdles when pursuing adoption in Texas. An experienced Austin family law attorney who knows Texas adoption laws and requirements can help you understand your rights and options.
General Requirements for Adoption in Texas Law
A second-parent adoption is an option available to same-sex couples who are not married when one partner has a child who is biologically theirs.
If an unmarried same-sex couple wants to legally adopt a child who is not biologically related to either one of them, they must do so as two single people jointly adopting the same child, not as a couple. This process requires each same-sex partner to go through the adoption process sequentially, with at least a six-month delay between the adoptions.
In general, adopting a child in Texas requires that you:
- Be at least 21 years old.
- Provide character references.
- Provide information about your background and lifestyle.
- Submit to and pass a child abuse clearance and criminal background check.
- Be financially stable.
In addition, the Texas law adoption process requires:
- Filing a petition to adopt in the appropriate family court.
- Terminating parental rights. In some cases, it may be necessary for a biological parent or the parents of the child to terminate their parental rights as the child’s legal parents for you to proceed with a legal adoption. An involuntary termination may be necessary if abandonment, abuse, or neglect has occurred, making both the biological mother and biological father unfit to have custody and raise their child. The family court will issue a termination order if is persuaded that doing so is in the child’s best interests. An Austin LGBTQ+ adoption lawyer can help you make this case.
- Passing a home study. This requires a State Health Services evaluator to confirm that the prospective parents have adequate space and a safe environment for a new child and are financially able to provide proper care. With the help of an experienced adoption attorney, the home study may be waived in a second-parent adoption.
- Reviewing and finalizing the adoption. A third party, usually an attorney who regularly works for the local family court, must review the paperwork and home study results to determine whether the adoption is in the child’s best interests. The third party will then make a recommendation to the court.
Once these steps have been completed, the family court judge will hold a hearing and issue a decision about the legal adoption based on the recommendations of the evaluator and third-party attorney.
After the court’s approval, an adoption in Texas is not finalized until the child has lived with the prospective parent or parents for at least six months. However, if the family court decides if it is in the best interest of the child’s life, it can waive the residency requirement and make the adoption final.
Reach Out to Our Local Family Law Attorneys Near You
Let the experienced team of family law attorneys at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., provide trusted legal guidance if your family’s future is at stake. Whether you are a married couple or an unmarried couple, our experienced Austin adoption lawyers have the knowledge, resources, and skills needed to make the legal adoption process go as smoothly as possible for LGBTQ+ couples in Texas. We can take care of the leg work and take much of the stress off of your shoulders. If problems arise, we’ll aggressively advocate on your behalf in Texas courts.
If you haven’t yet scheduled a consultation with an LGBTQ+ adoption lawyer, please call today at (512) 476-4873or connect with us by filling out our contact form. Our award-winning law firm has represented same-sex couples in legal proceedings and earned a reputation for hard work, dedication, and successful results.