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Unresolved Texas marriage law negatively impacts family law case

Unclear and conflicting laws produce inconsistent legal outcomes. Judges from state to state or even one jurisdiction to the next can have different interpretations of the same law. Right now, Texas marriage laws and other laws dependent upon them are in a state of flux.

Texas law forbids gay marriage and the recognition of legal gay marriages performed in other states. As reported by CNN in February, a federal judge determined the ban served no "legitimate purpose." State law will remain unchanged until the case is resolved in appeal.

Life doesn't stop for Houston couples. Important family law issues -- child custody, parental rights, marriage, divorce and adoption – often can't wait while lawmakers and courts sort out differences. A pair of Dallas fathers are learning just how complicated the legal process can be.

The gay men were married in a legal out-of-state ceremony last July. The couple wanted to become parents and located a surrogate mother who carried twins, each with the biological input of one father. The boys were born in April, but the new dads couldn't convince the state their names belonged on the twins' birth certificates.

The surrogate was not a biological participant – the embryos she carried did not come from her eggs -- but her name is the one listed on the birth certificate as the parent for both boys. A Texas judge turned down the fathers' request to be recognized on the certificates. Also denied was a petition to allow second-parent adoptions so each spouse would have parental rights for both boys.

The judge told the dads current state law would not allow the court to grant the men's wishes. Second-parent adoptions are allowed when couples are married and, in Texas, that only includes couples of the opposite sex. A family law attorney helps clients revise legal strategies that change as laws change or are anticipated to change.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Jason Hanna And Joe Riggs, Texas Gay Fathers, Denied Legal Parenthood Of Twin Sons" Michelangelo Signorile, Jun. 18, 2014

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