Same-sex parents face challenges that many heterosexual couples do not. One of the biggest challenges that LGBT parents face is the legal status of the parent who did not give birth to the child or did not adopt the child. For example, most same-sex parents would like to have both of their names added to their children’s birth certificates. Since the Obergefell decision, we are often asked the following questions by LGBT clients:
“Can I add my name to my child’s birth certificate?”
The answer used to be an unequivocal “no.” Even though many same-sex couples in Ohio have been raising their children together over the years, only the biological or adoptive parent could be listed on a child’s birth certificate…until now.
The answer changed for some same-sex parents on June 26, 2015, the day the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling on marriage equality in Obergefell. The Ohio Department of Health is now allowing both same-sex parents to be listed on their child’s birth certificate, as long as their child was born after the couple was legally married and both parents consent.
“How do I add my name to my child’s birth certificate?”
You must submit a Supplemental Form to Mother’s Worksheet - Parentage Identifier (HEA 0166), Application for Certified Copies (HEA 2709), a copy of the couple’s marriage license that shows the date of marriage being before the date of birth (or adoption) of the child, and a check or money order for $21.50 to the Office of Vital Statistics in Columbus, Ohio.
“Is Having My Name on My Child’s Birth Certificate Enough?”
The answer is: We just don’t know.
We don’t know if the non-biological (or non-adoptive) parent has any parental rights to his/her child born (or adopted) after marriage. Will that parent be considered a legally recognized “parent” under Ohio law? The Ohio Statutes concerning parentage typically refer only to a “father” and “mother.” This is problematic for two mothers or two fathers, of course, and the parentage issue is currently working its way through the courts.
Because this area of family law is so unsettled in Ohio, we are encouraging all couples (married and unmarried) to be proactive and establish legal rights for the non-biological (or non-adoptive) parent now through step-parent adoption, shared custody, or other court action. Maria Shinn advocates for same-sex parents in probate, juvenile and domestic relations courts throughout Ohio.