New Hampshire has become the second state within the past week that has updated its parentage laws to better protect all children and families, including those formed through assisted reproduction.
Governor Chris Sununu (R) has signed HB1162, which clarifies that the spouses of biological parents may seek to adopt their children. In these cases where “one of the adoptee’s parents will remain a parent”—as is the case for many LGBTQ couples—no home study is necessary. Alternatively, parents who create their families through assisted reproduction may petition for a court judgment of parentage “either before, during, or subsequent to the pregnancy,” which the court must issue within 30 days. In most cases, a court appearance will not be necessary. (Once again, adoptions or court judgments are more legally solid, especially across state and national borders, than simply having both parents’ names on the birth certificate.)
The new law also expands access to adoption by unmarried couples and updates the state’s parentage laws in gender-neutral and inclusive terms.
New Hampshire follows Rhode Island in updating its laws this month to better meet the needs of families today—the Ocean State passed a similar parentage law last week. Each state’s provisions are somewhat different, though, so do call the GLAD Answers hotline or consult your own a lawyer if you have any questions about these new laws.
Will Massachusetts also revise its parentage statutes before the end of this month, giving us a New England trifecta for the legislative session? Let’s hope so—and if you live in Massachusetts like me, call or e-mail your state senators and representatives immediately and ask them to support passage of H.1485 and S.1013. Also call Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D; 617.722.1500) and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo (D; 617.722.2500). GLAD and MassEquality in a webinar on July 10 suggested emphasizing not only the personal impact on children and families, but also increased efficiency (less clogging of the courts; less burden on DCF) and reduced costs—practical considerations that may sway lawmakers. A few other talking points are on this Fact Sheet from GLAD (pdf).
Yes, there are still hurdles aplenty for our families and our country—but let’s take heart that there can still be progress.