There is no doubt that the political climate surrounding same-sex marriage and gay rights is changing in the United States. Here in Florida, the right to marry was recently extended to same-sex couples who not only have the right to wed but now have the right to legally divorce their spouse as well. Despite this shift though, there are still some legal issues facing same-sex couples in our state. One such issue is that of adoption.
As we explained in a November post, adoption laws here in Florida only changed recently in 2010 when the 3rd District Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court decision, which found that banning a heterosexual person from adopting a child actually "violated the equal protection clause in the State Constitution." Unfortunately, the legalization of adoptions for heterosexual individuals then created a unique legal situation that was challenging for same-sex couples: second-parent adoptions.
Second-parent adoptions typically happen when one heterosexual individual adopts their partner's biological or adoptive child. Since 2010, the process has been expensive and time consuming. In one case, a gay couple spent more than a year and $6,000 before their second-parent adoption was finalized. But some legal professionals here in Florida believe that things could change now because of changes that have been made to the law concerning same-sex couples and their rights.
Even though the political and legal climate appear to be warming up to equality among all sexual orientations, it's important to note that same-sex couples could still encounter legal issues depending on their situation. When in doubt, it's often considered a good idea to speak to a knowledgeable attorney before taking on the legal system, especially because of what could be at stake if you don't.
Source: The Tampa Bay Times, "For gay couples in Florida, an easier path to adoption," Anna M. Phillips, Jan. 23, 2015