While same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states currently, there are many state laws on the books that make it difficult to assume same-sex parents retain the same rights as biological parents. Oftentimes, the law assumes the birth mother is one parent and the biological father is the other by default. Even with months of proof that you and your spouse have cared for your children, biological parents may have grounds to appeal for custody without the appropriate protections.
You can accomplish this through official, documented appeals like second-parent adoptions — also known as confirmatory adoptions.
Assumptions versus confirmations
As Family Equality details, it is easy for many parents, same-sex couples or otherwise, to imagine that a birth certificate or parenting precedent helps keep the state from calling their parental rights into question. However, a birth certificate is not proof of parentage and is more like an administrative document for state records. A birth certificate alone may not overturn challenges to your parental rights.
Confirming your adoption
Protecting your parenting rights involves a petition for adoption that often includes FBI and criminal background checks. It also involves an adoption hearing where the courts rule whether you and your spouse are the best parental option for your children.
Establishing this legal recognition in advance protects your parental rights and, in the event of a divorce, gives you equal rights at the custody table as well. The process involves several steps and relies on appropriate documentation and so it is important to lean on your resources and information to help get it right the first time.