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SCOTUS Rules Alabama Must Honor Georgia Same-Sex, Second-Parent Adoption

In a decision that further solidifies the constitutional rights of same-sex partners, the Supreme Court of the United States has reversed an Alabama Supreme Court decision not to recognize a Georgia adoption by a mother’s same-sex partner.

The high court case arose out of an Alabama child custody dispute between two women, former partners in a 16-year nonmarital relationship, one who was the natural mother of two children, and the other who had adopted the children in a second-parent adoption while the couple lived in Georgia. The Alabama Supreme Court had found the Georgia adoption to be invalid, because in its view the Fulton County Superior Court that granted the adoption lacked subject matter jurisdiction under Georgia law. For this reason, the Alabama Supreme Court had ruled its state had no obligation to extend “full faith and credit” to the adoption.

Georgia statutes do not specifically permit or prohibit adoptions by unmarried couples, whether they are the opposite sex or same sex. However, before same-sex marriage was legalized, many judges in Georgia had treated second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples as stepparent adoptions, and Georgia appellate courts have been silent on the issue. The U.S. Supreme Court found ample jurisdiction in the Georgia statutes that says “the superior courts…have exclusive jurisdiction in all matters of adoption.”

The U.S. Constitution requires states to enforce laws, contracts and court judgments from other states, so once the adoption was found to have been valid in Georgia, Alabama had to enforce the rights of the adoptive parent.

If you are concerned about enforcing your parental rights, speak to an experienced and concerned family law attorney at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia. Contact our office to schedule a consultation.