How does paternity apply to same-sex couples?
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How does paternity apply to same-sex couples?

Paternity laws exist so individuals with children can help identify parentage when questions exist about legal and financial responsibility for a child, but what happens when those parents are of the same sex? The Judicial Branch of California notes that legally establishing paternity benefits both the parents and the child, as custody and visitation rights cannot proceed otherwise.

Same-sex couples are bound to the same paternity laws as those of the opposite sex, and understanding these laws can help them secure their status as legal parents of a child, as well as seek child support and other benefits in the event of a divorce.

Establishing parental rights

There are several instances in which an individual who is part of a same-sex couple might want to establish paternity. For instance, if a woman wants to marry her partner who already has a child and wants to legally parent that child, she must ask the court to grant her those rights. That individual may have to prove that she intends to act as the child’s legal parent and take on the responsibilities that come with that role.

The rights of same-sex parentage

In the case of male couples, establishing paternity can grant one or both men rights they might not have otherwise, especially if the mother of a child calls the paternity of that child into question. When a man in a same-sex relationship proves and acknowledges he is the father of a child, the couple can then petition the court for custody, visitation and other rights granted under the law.

Some courts may acknowledge a child has more than two parents, such as if the biological mother wants to remain in a child’s life, even if the father and his partner have custody of the child. This is often beneficial for the child, especially if all parents involved cooperate in his or her upbringing.

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