New Jersey has eased the burden for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents who seek adoption to make their families whole. As a result of a new law simplifying the adoption process, non-biological parents can enjoy the protections afforded by law without subjecting themselves to an unnecessarily burdensome process.
The law allows LGBT couples who are legally married or joined in a civil union to become legally recognized parents to a child born from a pregnancy achieved with donor-genetic material. Many same-sex couples create their families using these medically assisted methods. Since the unconventional parentage lacks a biological element, the law has traditionally required these parents to jump through hoops to attain parental rights and protections.
Adoption is an expensive and bureaucratic process that can drain families of resources or bar them from the prospect altogether, leaving them unprotected under the law. Expensive and time-consuming obstacles can be prohibitive factors for some families. At the very least, some hurdles are simply an unnecessary waste of the court’s time and resources. Thanks to the passage of the new law, qualifying parents can be exempt from many of the components of the adoption process, such as home visits, background checks, and court hearings.
The new law was brought to life by a couple put off by the convoluted process of second-parent or confirmatory adoption required to provide appropriate legal status to their parentage of their children. They believed there had to be an easier way for families to achieve protections and recognition under the law. Without a court order, parents in New Jersey are only legally recognized if they gestated the child or donated genetic material. Neither of these was the case in their family, so they were forced to make it right through a lengthy and costly adoption process.
Recognizing that the hurdles present a barrier to legal protections that should be afforded to all families, they enlisted lawyers to draft new legislation and approached the State Senator about sponsoring the bill.
A New Streamlined Process
After the streamline, the adoption process goes into effect on April 1. A judgment establishing both parties as the legal parents will be available through the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior Court, provided that the following three documents are presented:
- An original marriage certificate or other proof of marital-type relationship, such as a civil union
- The child’s original birth certificate listing both parties as parents
- Verification that there remains no other person with claim to parentage, including an affidavit stating the circumstances of the child’s conception
New Jersey LGBT Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Advocate for the Rights of LGBT Families
Gay and lesbian non-biological parents and their children deserve equal protections under the law. The New Jersey LGBT lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can represent you in your efforts to provide a legally recognized familial link to your children. Contact us online or call us at 908-575-9777 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.
By: CHRIS ANN WRIGHT
On February 11, 2020 Robyn Peoples and Sharni Edwards were married! See, Haynes, Suyin, ‘It Just Shows What All the Work Was For.’ “Meet the First Same-Sex Couple to Get Married in Northern Ireland”, Time Magazine, February 9, 2020, updated February 10, 2020. This is the first same sex legal marriage in Northern Ireland. Same sex couples in Northern Ireland have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships since 2005 but have never had the opportunity to marry. In England, Scotland and Wales, countries that are also part of the United Kingdom, same sex couples have been able to marry since 2014. Northern Ireland has finally caught up to the rest of country!
On January 13, 2020, same sex couples in Northern Ireland were allowed to register their intent to marry. Robyn and Sharni will make that intent a reality on February 11, 2020 at the expiration of the 28 day waiting period required in Northern Ireland. Apparently, Northern Ireland has not had a functioning government since March of 2017 due to political unrest and so has lagged woefully behind the rest of the UK on the issue of same sex marriage. However, things are changing with a recent election in Northern Ireland and the country seems to be moving forward politically.
Two issues relating to same sex marriage continue to be discussed. The first is the conversion of a previously entered into civil partnership to a same sex marriage.
Currently, the law does not allow couple to convert the civil partnerships. The second is religious ceremonies for same sex marriages. To date a same sex marriage can only be a civil ceremony. There is no provision in the law allowing for religious ceremonies.
Regardless of the glitches, Northern Ireland is moving forward and Robyn and Sharni will be married with the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples.
At Lyons & Associates, P.C. we value same sex relationships and place a premium on personalized attention for your personal matters. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-575-9777.
Making it Easier for Non-Resident Same Sex Couples to Divorce in NJ
A new amendment to the New Jersey Court Rule 5:7-1 has eased the roadblock that many non-New Jersey residents face when seeking to terminate a domestic partnership or a civil union that was solemnized in New Jersey.
Specifically, now under the Rules of Court, a non-resident of New Jersey can file for a termination of a domestic partnership or civil union in circumstances where the parties do not have a forum of their own.
Rule 5:7-1. Venue Except as otherwise provided by law, venue in actions for divorce, dissolution of civil union or termination of domestic partnership, nullity and separate maintenance shall be laid in the county in which plaintiff was domiciled when the cause of action arose, or if plaintiff was not then domiciled in this State, then in the county in which defendant was domiciled when the cause of action arose; or if neither party was domiciled in this State when the cause of action arose, then in the county in which the plaintiff is domiciled when the action is commenced, or if plaintiff is not domiciled in this State, then in the county where defendant is domiciled when service of process is made. For purposes of this rule, in actions brought under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(c), the cause of action shall be deemed to have arisen three months after the last act of cruelty complained of in the Complaint. For purposes of this rule, in actions brought under N.J.S.A. 26:8A-10 for termination of a domestic partnership in which both parties are non-residents and without a forum available to dissolve the domestic partnership, venue shall be laid in the county in which the Certificate of Domestic Partnership is filed. For purposes of this rule, for the dissolution of a civil union created in New Jersey in which both parties are now non-residents and without a forum available to dissolve the civil union, venue shall be laid in the county in which the civil union was solemnized. (emphasis added).
The far-reaching implications of this amendment are yet to materialize, however, it is anticipated that it would generate an influx of same-sex couples to register in the state, drive up state revenues, and provide a forum for those who have been historically denied of same in their home state.
As you can see, venue for termination of a domestic partnership or civil union for non-New Jersey residents is a new and developing area of the law. For more information regarding termination of a domestic partnership or civil union contact Lyons & Associates. Our divorce lawyers in New Jersey represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us online, or call our offices at 908-575-9777.
Written by: Marissa DelMauro, Esq.
Today’s modern family is made up of a variety of conventional and blended family structures created by adoption, remarriage, and same sex parents. Whatever type of blended family you are living in, there are several ways you can ensure peace and harmony in your home. Blended families can struggle at times, but with perseverance and compromise, you can create a loving and calm home.
Families that can maintain their sense of humor and engage in playful activities can reduce the tension and stress that can surface as parents, children, and siblings create new bonds. Sharing funny stories from each family’s past will help children get to know their step-parent and step-siblings better. Board games, favorite movies, and friendly competitions such as a game of hide and seek or tag can promote a team spirit. Laughing at yourself will help others be less critical and more accepting.
Children may need an adjustment period in their new environment, especially in the beginning. Finding time to bond individually with each member of the new family is vital to forming relationships. Helping a child with homework, fixing dinner or cleaning up the dishes together, and creating bedtime routines can help build special bonds. Teenagers also need to form these relationships, but may be more resistant. Driving them to a friend’s house or picking them up from a social activity will give you one-on-one time that can have a positive impact.
Listen and Share
Listening to each family member’s concerns or feelings is an important part of building trust. When each member of the new family feels their ideas and emotions are being heard, they will be more willing to listen to the needs of others and compromise when necessary.
Sharing family traditions from each side of a blended family also helps to unite all members. Birthday celebrations, holiday traditions, religious events, and even sharing hobbies can promote unity. Inviting relatives from both sides of the family to celebrations helps extended members invest in the blending of the new family unit. Taking an interest in unfamiliar routines or traditions shows that each member is a valued and vital part of the new family.
Adults need to show respect for each other by supporting decisions that are made within each family. Parents that share custody of their children need to be wiling to compromise on schedules so that children are present at major celebrations or family events. Disagreements between adults should be kept as just that. Children should never be drawn into adult arguments or asked to take sides between parents. Respect for step-parents will enable the children to feel that they are loved and valued in both families, and will enable them to transition back and forth between parental households with the least amount of stress.
Parents also need to remember to take time to focus on building and nurturing their relationship with their new spouse or partner. Couples that take time for each other and have other adults that they can rely on to share their experiences will be better able to nurture their children and families.
Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Blended Families Transition Successfully
If you or someone you know is considering a divorce or is creating a blended family, the experienced and compassionate Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can help. Call us at 908-575-9777, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our New Jersey offices serve clients in Somerset County, Morris County, and Union County.