Child Custody for Same Sex Couples in Pennsylvania

To speak with the best child custody lawyers in PA (family speciality) about this topic, please give us a call. In the case of domestic partnerships, where one of the partners is not a biological parent, the legal status of in loco parentis must be used to determine whether the non-biological partner has standing to proceed. Standing, in legal terms, means a person’s right to take a case before the court based upon their connection to the case. A person must have a significant connection to be able to take a case before the court. The phrase “in loco parentis ” refers to a person who puts oneself in the situation of a lawful parent by assuming the obligations incident to the parental relationship without going through the formality of a legal adoption. The status of in loco parentis embodies two ideas; first, the assumption of a parental status, and, second, the discharge of parental duties. If a person can prove that they stand in loco parentis to a child they have standing to go before the court seeking custody rights.

It may be difficult to prove a non-biological parent stands in loco parentis to the child in court if no adoption occurs. Conservative courts may be less eager to promote a same sex partner’s legal rights. Hearings are HIGHLY fact specific and require a clear in loco parentis showing. Courts look at:

  • Relationship of the child and same sex partner.
  • Maturity of the same sex couple.
  • The length of the relationship between the same sex couple and whether they live together with the child.
  • The intentions of both partners to parent together and what steps, if any, were taken to ensure that joint parenting would take place.
  • Any co-parenting agreements or other documents regarding the child that had both partners listed as parents.

In Pennsylvania same sex couples can use adoption to ensure that both parties, whether or not they are biologically related to the child, have equal parental rights. Second parent adoption provides legally recognized parental status to same sex couples raising children. Second parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt a child without the first parent losing any parental rights and grants both parents the same legal rights as those enjoyed by more traditional family structures. Whenever a parent consents to the adoption of his or her child by his or her partner, the parent-child relationship between that biological parent and the child remains, whether or not he or she is one of the petitioners in the adoption proceeding.

For more information on family divorce mediation, custody, support or law in general, please contact Kris Smull at (800) 615-0115.

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