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Texas same-sex couples can face struggles in parentage matters

A same-sex couple is currently in something of a legal limbo in their fight to be legally recognized as the parents of infant twins.

The couple consists of two men from Texas. The two got married in Washington D.C. last year. Of course, given Texas' same-sex marriage ban, their marriage isn't legally recognized in their home state.

Following the wedding, the couple set up a surrogacy arrangement with a woman. The woman gave birth to twins sons for the couple this April. The woman has no biological connection to the twins, while each of the two men is biologically connected to one of the twins. Despite this, the woman was listed on the twins' birth certificates, while neither of the two men were.

Given the same-sex marriage ban, Texas same-sex couples who have been married in other states do not currently have access to the same mechanisms for automatic recognition of being the parent of a child as opposite-sex married couples do. Thus, they generally need to turn to other legal methods, such as adoption, to obtain such recognition.

The thing that can be challenging though for same-sex couples when it comes to pursuing these alternate methods is that judges in Texas have a great deal of discretion in deciding whether to grant same-sex couples what they are requesting in such alternate methods. This high degree of discretion worked against the above-mentioned two men.

The two men had filed legal actions to have the twins’ birth certificates changed to reflect the biological connections between them and the twins and to have a second-parent adoption done in regards to the twins so that both of the men are legally recognized as the parents of the twins. Purportedly, the couple has friends who have had similar requests granted. However, the judge in the men's case opted to deny their request. Thus, currently, neither of the men is legally recognized as a parent of the twins. The men are currently looking into what legal options they have moving forward.

As this case illustrates, legal issues regarding parentage can sometimes be rather challenging and unpredictable for same-sex couples. When facing such potential difficulties, having access to an experienced family law attorney who knows the state of the law, can go over available options and can fight for a positive outcome can be very helpful for a Texas same-sex couple.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Jason Hanna And Joe Riggs, Texas Gay Fathers, Denied Legal Parenthood Of Twin Sons," Michelangelo Signorile, June 18, 2014

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