The Declining Importance of Paternity
Some jurisdictions, such as Colorado, have de-emphasized the role of genetic relationships in matters of parental responsibilities (a detailed analysis of those laws can be found in a recent post in the law forum).
People legally recognized as parents, for example, in a birth certificate, do have heightened responsibilities are parents, but far more people can have standing to seek a role in parental decision-making for a child and parenting time.
Similarly, in the area of inheritance, in the U.S. and most countries with Anglo-American common law legal systems, one is not required to leave anything to one's adult children in one's Will (unlike, for example, Mexico, where a child can only be disinherited for disrespecting a parent, or at least, could only be until recently).
Many jurisdictions also delineate between different aspects of the parenting role in statutes addressing technological assisted reproduction treatments, distinguishing, for example, between male and female genetic contributions (egg donors and sperm donors), the person who experiences the pregnancy, and people who are treated as parents of a child for legal purposes once a child is born.
As much as possible, these details are governed by an agreement of the parties, but there have to be default rules that apply in the absence of an agreement. A central concept in this area is the "intended parent".
New frontiers also include individuals who have genetic contributions from three genetic parents.
Colorado's main statutory authority for these cases is a section of the Uniform Parentage Act pertinent to Assisted Reproduction.
Second Parent Adoption
Another developing concept is "second parent adoption" (also called co-parent adoption) in which a child with two biological parents is adopted by the partner (often a same sex partner or stepparent) of a child without terminating the parental rights of either of the biological parents. As explained in the link, fourteen states have recognized second parent adoptions by statute or in case law (in Colorado, the pertinent statute are Colorado Revised Statutes, Sections 19-5-203(1), 19-5-208(5), 19-5-210(1.5), 19-5-211(1.5)). Those fourteen states are:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New York
There are other countries that recognize second parent adoptions, but I do not know which ones on a comprehensive basis. Slovenia is apparently one such country.
A law review article from 2009 reviews the state of second parent adoptions internationally, but so much has happened on this front over the last eight years that realistically, this is an outdated source.
A more up to date source, but one limited to adoption by same sex couples can be found at Wikipedia.
Another fourteen states have authorized one or more second parent adoptions despite a lack of clear legal authority binding statewide that authorizes this to be done (and in the case of Florida, in the face of a statute prohibiting the practice):
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Meanwhile, ten U.S. states expressly prohibit second parent adoptions:
- The Alabama Court of Appeals ruled that (unmarried) same-sex couples cannot use the stepparent adoption procedures. However,
married same-sex spouses must be allowed to do so.
- Arizona gives a preference to married couples over a single adult in adoption placement.
- The Kansas Court of Appeals recently ruled that Kansas does not permit second parent or co-parent adoption by unmarried couples.
- A Kentucky court has said that Kentucky does not permit unmarried couples to use the stepparent adoption procedures.
- Mississippi has a statute that prohibits “[a]doption by couples of the same gender,” but under the Supreme Court ruling, Mississippi must
allow same-sex spouses to adopt on equal terms with other married
- Nebraska does not permit second parent or co-parent adoption by unmarried couples.
- North Carolina does not allow second parent or co-parent adoption by unmarried couples.
- Ohio does not permit second parent or co-parent adoption by unmarried couples.
- Utah prohibits anyone cohabiting in a non-marital sexual relationship from adopting. Utah also gives a preference to married
couples over any single adult in adoptions or foster care placement.
- Wisconsin does not permit second parent or co-parent adoption by unmarried couples.