The Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics recently reversed its refusal to list the names of both parents in same-sex marriages on birth certificates of children born to the marriage. Last year the Florida Department of Vital Statistics was sued by same-sex married couples who claimed the state was required to list both parents on birth certificates for their children, just like the state did for different-sex couples. For example, when a woman married to a man gives birth in Florida, her husband is automatically listed on the birth certificate unless a court has determined that someone else is the father. In addition, when a married same-sex couple adopts a child, both parents are listed on the birth certificate. Previously, when a same-sex married couple had a biological child, only the woman who gave birth was listed on the birth certificate. Married same-sex couples claimed this was a violation of their constitutional rights and was in derogation of the Supreme Court’s recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision which effectively made marriage equality the law across the nation.
In May 2016 the Florida Department of Vital Statistics announced that children born to a woman whom is married will now be able have both parents added to the birth certificate regardless of the gender of the parents. This means a woman married to a woman who gives birth during their marriage will be automatically listed as the other parent. Last week, the Department announced that it has updated six of its forms to reflect the new parentage label changes which will become effective August 1, 2016. The Department states, “In recognition of same sex unions, portions of the forms for parents’ names now say ‘Father/Parent’ or ‘Mother/Parent’ to accommodate the new parentage labels that may be used.”
While this is a victory for same-sex married couples, questions still remain regarding the impact of this policy on adoption and all of family law. For example, it is unknown whether same-sex legal parents who are on the birth certificate will be afforded the same presumption of paternity as heterosexual couples. It is possible that the definition of a legal parent in the same-sex scenario may erode in favor of an increased ability for biological parents to assert their paternity over such children, having an effect on adoption, custody, child support, and all of family law. These remain important legal issues that will be changing constantly over the next few years. If you have any questions or have an adoption issue you need help with, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (813) 258-3355.