When you and someone of the same sex decide to parent a child together in Georgia, you may face unique custody challenges that differ from those faced by heterosexual couples. Many people feel as if Georgia’s laws about child legitimation and marriage equality need updating to catch up with other states in the nation and give same-sex couples fair and equal rights.
Per the State Bar of Georgia, Georgia has had a legitimation process in place for some time that seeks to give unmarried fathers a method through which to establish parentage and legal rights over their children. The same process does not work for someone in a same-sex couple. However, some people in your shoes are looking to establish legal rights over a child by completing a second-parent adoption.
How second-parent adoption works
Second-parent adoption gives you a potential way to adopt your partner’s biological or adoptive child, even if you have no blood ties to the child yourself. Doing so has no impact on the legal rights of the child’s biological parent. However, once the second-parent adoption process is complete, you gain the same rights over the child as his or her biological parent has.
What happens in the absence of a second-parent adoption
In the absence of a second-parent adoption, there is no “presumption of parentage” for same-sex couples in Georgia. This means you have no legal standing if you wish to pursue visitation or custody rights over the child in question.
While you may be able to gain rights to your child through second-parent adoption, you may also have other options, such as taking advantage of the state’s Equitable Caregiver Act, if you wish to seek custody.