Under the Texas Uniform Parentage Act, paternity is presumptively established when a child is born to the mother within a marriage. This basic provision allows two married women to automatically have parenting rights and responsibilities as long as one of them gives birth to the child, but it does little to provide parenting rights for men in same-sex marriages.
Each family law attorney at GoransonBain Ausley wants to ensure that all married clients share the same rights and responsibilities for their children. Although the law can change at any time to make same-sex parenting a simpler process, the current laws provide the basic means for same-sex married couples to create a family.
Two Main Options for Becoming Parents in a Texas Same-Sex Marriage
Even before the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, Texas law permitted two basic means of creating a family beyond traditional childbirth:
- Adoption: Texas law views all parenting issues based on the best interests of the children. Since children typically benefit from having a loving family, the law already permits single LGBT individuals to petition to adopt children. Although no Texas law expressly permits same-sex couples to petition for adoption — or for same-sex partners to adopt each other’s’ children — these practices are, likewise, not prohibited under the law.
- Gestational agreements: The Uniform Parentage Act addresses issues pertaining to surrogate mothers with great specificity. In essence, legally-married couples who enter into valid contracts (known as gestational agreements) obtain full parenting rights to the babies upon birth.
Full Parenting Rights Benefit the Entire Family
Many married couples view children as the most important benefit, if not the goal, of marriage. A great deal of work goes into raising children, but the daily rewards of developing a strong parent-child relationship are unmatched in life. Without legal recognition of an individual’s status as a parent, however, a person can lose out on important decision-making responsibilities — or even the opportunity to be at a child’s side in the event of an accident or health issue.
Children receive just as many benefits when they are surrounded by loving family members, but they, too, can lose out when both spouses are not legally-recognized as parents by the law. Perhaps most upsetting would be lost contact with one parent in the event of a divorce.
Until the Texas law becomes more clear on the issue, same-sex married couples that are interested in adding children to their families should seek skilled legal advice to help make sure the rights of the entire family are protected. Contact GoransonBain Ausley to learn your options for getting started.