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Birth Certificates Still Do Not Reflect Same-Sex Spouses

It has now been more than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling gave same-sex couples the right to marry in the state of Florida. For Florida residents, however, that ruling has been bittersweet; although same-sex couples can marry, the State of Florida still refuses to place the names of both parents on the birth certificate when the couples’ child is born. Rather, legally married same-sex couples have to file and be granted a stepparent adoption through Florida’s judicial system in order to have the birth certificate correctly reflect the law.

Other States’ Birth Certificate Policies for Same-Sex Couples

When the Supreme Court’s decision drastically changed the legal landscape in terms of gay marriage last year, most states promptly changed their policies and began issuing birth certificates that list both spouses as the parents when a child is born. The Florida Department of Health’s birth certificate policy, however, has not changed at all. Instead, only the spouse who actually gives birth to the child has her name listed on the birth certificate. Although some legislators in both the House and Senate introduced bills this legislative session in order to resolve the issue, neither bills advanced out of committee.

Equality Florida Files Federal Lawsuit

Rather than wait for legislation that may or may not make it through the Florida legislature in the future, Equality Florida, an organization that promotes equality for the LGBT community, joined with three married lesbian couples last year to file a federal lawsuit. The case is currently pending before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

Stepparent Adoption Only Recourse

Until legislation or a ruling in the lawsuit changes the Florida Department of Health’s policy, the only recourse that same-sex couples have in this situation is to file a stepparent adoption to place the parent who did not give birth to the child on the birth certificate, along with the parent who did give birth. An adoption cannot be filed until after the child is born, and even an agreed-upon stepparent adoption can take from three to six months. The adoption also will cost anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500, including all of the necessary legal fees. In the meantime, the parent who did not give birth to the child would have no legal rights to the child at all, which is a particular problem, especially if something were to happen to the other parent during that timeframe.

Birth Certificates for Other Types of Couples

The stance of the Florida Department of Health on birth certificates for same-sex parents is unusual, considering their policies on other types of couples who give birth. For instance, Florida presumes that a woman’s husband is the child’s father and that his name should be listed on the child’s birth certificate, without establishing any biological connection between father and child. Likewise, if a couple uses a surrogate to give birth to a child, the couple’s names are listed on the birth certificate although they clearly are not biologically related to the child.

Contact Your South Florida Family Law Attorney Right Away

With the legal landscape with respect to same-sex couples, marriage, and children changing so rapidly, it is important that you get the advice of an experienced Florida family law attorney so that you understand the current state of the law and the options that are available to you. Call the Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC today, and learn what we can do to assist you in with respect to all of your family law needs.