Parental Recognition

Birth Certificates

A birth certificate documents the legal parentage of a child and serves as the most important piece of identification for a minor. Because of a presumption that the husband of a woman who gives birth to a child is the other legal parent, a child born to a different-sex married couple should have the names of both of their legal parents included on their birth certificate. Unfortunately, this presumption has not been seen to apply as consistently to same-sex couples in legally recognized relationships.

De facto parenting and “In loco parentis”

De facto parenting law grants parenting rights to an individual who has cared for and supported a child despite not being the child’s legal parent. The exact requirements vary by state (and many states do not recognize such a relationship, legally), but a de facto parent is generally defined as someone who has formed a parent-child relationship with a child and has shared in primary care responsibilities for reasons other than financial compensation.

Parental Presumption

The parental presumption applies to same-sex parents who have a child while married or in a state that recognizes their civil union or domestic partnership. The presumption is that both of the parents, by virtue of their relationship, are the legal parents of the child. For married different-sex couples, the presumption is that the husband of a wife who has given birth to a child is the father, but it is unclear how it will apply to same-sex couples in legally recognized relationships, especially with the recently widened availability of same-sex marriage.