US Supreme Court Upholds Rights of Adoptive Same Sex Partner

On March 7, 2016 the US Supreme Court ruled that a Judgment of Adoption entered in one state must be recognized and respected in any other state in the country.

Between 2002 and 2004 a woman who was identified as E.L. gave birth to three children, a single birth and a twin birth. She was in a committed relationship with another woman who has been identified as V.L. V.L. with the consent of her partner E.L. filed for a second parent adoption in Georgia where the couple had rented a home. The adoption complied with all requirements of Georgia law and was granted by the court. Years later when living in Alabama, E.L. and V.L. separated. V.L. sought joint custody and visitation with the children in Alabama. While the Alabama lower courts agreed that she was entitled to this, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the Judgment of Adoption need not be honored in Alabama. V.L. appealed this to the United States Supreme Court arguing that under the United States Constitution and federal law which requires judgments of one state be given full faith an credit in a sister state, the Judgment of Adoption had to be honored in Alabama. The US Supreme Court, while not discussing the issue of same sex couples, ruled that V.L. was correct in that full faith and credit should apply. The court specifically said, “A state may not disregard the judgment of a sister state because it disagrees with the reasoning.” The Supreme Court then returned this case to Alabama for further hearings on custody and visitation, but the issue of legal entitlement has now been resolved.

This case now raises the question in assisted reproduction cases as to whether judgments granting parentage by way of Pre-Birth Orders in one state will be honored in a sister state that does not provide for such orders.

ASSOCIATIONS AND AWARDS

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