CHANGES TO MARYLAND ADOPTION AND PARENTAGE LAWS: SECOND PARENT ADOPTIONS JUST GOT EASIER

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Family Formation Law Office is excited to announce that effective June 1, 2019, Maryland adoption and parentage laws will be changed for the better!
Jennifer had the privilege of assisting with the drafting of House Bill (HB)519/ Senate Bill (SB) 697 and testifying in front of the Maryland legislature in support of this Bill, which has now become law.

The new law, found in Maryland Family Law Article 5-3B-27, applies to an adoption by “1) an individual who is the spouse of the prospective adoptees mother at the time of the child’s conception or birth; OR 2) an individual who, together with the prospective adoptee’s mother, consented to the conception of the prospective adoptee by means of assisted reproduction with the shared express intent of being parents to the prospective adoptee”

What is Different?

The new law streamlines and expedites the adoption process for couples who fall into one of the two afore-mentioned categories above. The law removes the requirement of providing certain documents mandated in other types of adoptions in Maryland (such as tax returns and health statements) and now will only require that the parties provide the child’s birth certificate, the parties’ marriage certificate (or if not married, then evidence of the parties’ shared express intent to become parents of the child by means of assisted reproduction), and a statement explaining the circumstances of the prospective adoptee’s conception (e.g. donor agreement, affidavit from fertility doctor and/or letter from cryobank regarding donor). In cases where there is a known donor, the parties will need to also provide a document evidencing the donor’s consent to the process.

Most significantly, the law removes any requirement of a court investigation, which was previously required by some counties. The change in the law also removes the requirement of a hearing, unless the court feels the need to determine whether there are additional parties who may be entitled to notice or whose consent may be required, if the court is not satisfied from the pleadings that appropriate notice or consent has been provided. In almost all second parent adoptions a hearing should not be required since the cases, by their nature are consensual arrangements between parents and in some cases, a known donor.

The law specifically authorizes second parent adoptions when the child’s parents are not married at the time, they have their child or seek the adoption. It also provides presumptions that a child born during a marriage is a child of the marriage and expands that presumption to unmarried same-sex parents who have a child by virtue of one partner giving birth to the child.

HB519/SB697 also updated terminology and definitions to include gender-neutral language to better support Maryland parentage and families.  In addition, for couples who are not married but who conceived through assisted conception, the non-birth parent can now execute an affidavit of parentage so that he/she are able to be listed on the child's birth certificate. 

To read the Bill, please visit: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2019RS/bills/hb/hb0519E.pdf

Jennifer, in collaboration with several other LGBTQi colleagues, has developed a "Donor Consent" that she intends to use in cases involving a known donor.

Family Formation Law Offices is ready and excited to work with families benefitting from the changes. Please feel free to reach out with any questions about how this law may affect you and your family.

“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax