Dear Lesbian Mamas and Trans Papas and Nonbinary Parents who did not carry their children’s pregnancies but are already on their kids’ birth certificates,
First of all, congratulations on being a parent! I’m not one myself (yet), but I truly believe parenting to be one of the most rewarding and honorable challenges for a person to ever take on. And I know that the loving bond you have with your child is unbreakable. That’s why I am begging you to make sure that the legal bond you have is just as strong. I know that it’s tempting to rest that faith on the birth certificate, but please believe me when I tell you it is not enough.
Remember how Mississippi used to get to ignore a valid California marriage certificate? Yea. Unfortunately, they can still do that with our birth certificates. What they can’t do is ignore a judgment from a court. (It’s a little thing we lawyers like to call Full Faith and Credit.) So, please go get one – either an adoption or a parentage judgment. Talk to your local family formation lawyer (or reach out to Gena or me to help you find one). A lifetime of parentage insurance usually will cost you less than a year or two of car insurance. Do it. Don’t wait until there is an emergency to be caught with your pants down.
For example – a car accident happens on a cross country road trip – do you want to have to prove your parentage before you can make emergency medical decisions for your child? Heaven forbid, you pass away without estate planning – will your kid have the right to inherit from you? Or bring a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf if you die under questionable circumstances? Those awful times are not the times to get started on legally establishing your parentage – the time is now. I know you love your kids, and you would never do something that could put them at risk, but there is so much misinformation out there, so let me set the record straight: You. Need. A. Judgment. Now go get it!
With all my love and respect,
Your Friendly (and sometimes snarky) Family Formation Attorney
*this is not intended to be legal advice but rather legal information. feel free to reach out to connect you with a local lawyer.
Amira Hasenbush is a family formation lawyer in Los Angeles, California. She runs All Family Legal, a law practice focused on helping LGBTQ people grow and protect their families. She graduated second in her class from UCLA School of Law and has a masters in public health from UCLA School of Public Health
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