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Adoption: The next same-sex family law issue before SCOTUS?

The family law landscape has been going through seismic shifts in the past few years as far as same-sex couples are concerned. As we all know, same-sex marriages have now been deemed legal in all states, including Louisiana.

But that is only one small element in an area of law that is much bigger in scope. So what will be the next big issue likely to cause tremors? It appears that it could be the question of inconsistencies in state laws involving approved adoptions by homosexual individuals.

Just such a case has been submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s not clear whether the nation’s high court will agree to hear it. Regardless, it is something that experienced family law attorneys will be watching carefully.

The question the court is being asked to address is that Alabama’s Supreme Court has stripped an adoptive lesbian mother of parental rights granted to her by the state of Georgia. The woman wants those rights restored.

Not only did Alabama’s court refuse to recognize the woman as the legal parent of three children she shares with her ex-partner in Georgia, it ruled she doesn’t even have visitation rights because the same-sex mothers never married and Alabama justices note that Georgia law doesn’t allow non-spouses to adopt without first terminating parental rights of current parents.

The Alabama court essentially found that Georgia broke its own law by granting the adoption, and so voided the other state’s action.

As one court observer notes, there is a provision in the U.S. Constitution that generally requires one state to recognize court orders issued by other states. And the petitioning woman says that if the Alabama decision is allowed to stand it will “create a massive loophole” that could wind up eroding the Full Faith and Credit Clause of Article IV of the Constitution across a broad swath of legal matters.

A decision on possible action is now pending before Justice Clarence Thomas.

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