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Is Assigning Legal Guardianship To A Same-Sex Co-Parent A Good Alternative To Adoption?

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Although society is largely accepting of same-sex relationships, LGBT parents still face many obstacles when it comes to having their parental rights recognized by the government, resulting in numerous custody and child support problems issues. Since adoption isn't always a feasible option, many couples wonder if assigning guardianship to the parent without the biological connection to the children is the next best thing. It can be, but here are a couple of things you should be aware of.

Guardianship Can Be Revoked

Guardianship gives a person legal access to and control over another person (or multiple persons). People in this role can make decisions for the children on their behalf and can request and receive financial support from the biological parents. On the surface, this would seem like an ideal way to protect non-biological co-parents from unfair laws or family interference.

However, the biggest drawback to guardianship is it can be revoked at any time by the biological parent. With adoption, a person's rights to a child are permanently established, and it's extremely difficult to get them rescinded. Retracting a guardianship, on the other hand, is as simple as filing the appropriate paperwork with the court.

This means the non-biological parent's rights to the child are tenuous at best, since they can be lost whenever the biological parent wants to cut off access to the kids (e.g. during a divorce). Even worse, other people can challenge the guardianship and get the court to end it or transfer it to someone else if they provide the right kind of justification and evidence.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to counter this particular problem with guardianship. Thus, it should be seen only as a temporary stop on the road to full adoption.

Leaving Assets Requires Special Handling

Another problem with guardianship is it will a little harder to leave money and assets to your children. Because the kids aren't recognized as yours, they'll be treated as though they were strangers by the law. So, anything that would've automatically gone to them were they your biological children may be rerouted to other people who the law determines has a closer familial relationship to you.

For instance, children are normally next in line to inherit the family money and assets when both parents pass away. However, if you only have a guardianship over the kids, the law will pass those items onto your next biological relative instead (e.g. your parents or siblings).

Luckily, this problem can be solved by creating a will and specifically naming the kids as your beneficiaries. Alternatively, you can create a trust for them and place any money or assets you want to leave to them in it. An estate lawyer can provide more assistance with this particular issue.

If you're looking for ways to protect your parental rights to child whom you don't have a biological connection to, contact a family lawyer for help and advice.