Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Family law: U.S. Supreme Court rules for same-sex adoption

After the Supreme Court ruled about a year ago that all same-sex couples have a constitutional right to get married, Massachusetts couples might have noticed that some family laws have not been updated to accommodate all potential issues. This has led to some legal battles that might have been avoided had all aspects of family law been modified. A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in another state may benefit others who are fighting child custody battles.

The case involved two women whose committed relationship lasted for 17 years before they split. Three children were born to one partner, and when the other partner wished to adopt the children, an attorney advised her to seek full parental rights through the legal system in a neighboring state. When the couple separated some years later, the adoptive mother sought joint custody, and the court honored the adoption order of the neighboring state.

However, the Supreme Court in their home state, Alabama, overturned that order, ruling that the court in Georgia had misinterpreted the laws and the adoption rights should never have been awarded. Upon appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court recently reversed the ruling of the Alabama Supreme Court, ordering the honoring of the Georgia ruling.

The Constitution dictates that full faith and credit must be given to legal decisions that are reached in other states. Same-sex partners in Massachusetts who have legal issues related to family law may get the necessary guidance from an attorney who is experienced in dealing with matters related to non-traditional families. A lawyer can assess the details of the issue and suggest the most appropriate way forward.

Source:, "Supreme Court Voids Alabama Ruling Against Gay Adoption", Pete Williams, March 7, 2016

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