Gay Marriage and Adoption

On November 3, 2015, CNN published an article titled “Couple seeks right to marry. The hitch? They’re legally father and son.” Yes, you read that correctly. As unbelievable as this headline may sound, there is a very interesting story behind this brief but controversial-sounding title.

The Supreme Court may have declared same-sex marriages legal in all states earlier this year, but getting to this point was a long and daunting road for same-sex couples. Many, including Nino Esposito and his partner Roland “Drew” Bosee (the couple who are the focus of the CNN article); never thought that they would see the day that same-sex marriage was legalized in their state. In their case, that state was Pennsylvania. So, after over 40 years as a couple, they decided to do something drastic.


By now you may have guessed what this drastic move was. In 2012, Nino legally adopted his partner Drew thus becoming Drew’s legal parent. When you understand the reasoning behind this move, it all begins to make sense. By being deprived of the legal right to marry, same-sex couples were deprived of the rights associated with being married. Just one example of the rights we’re talking about here are social security benefits. If your partner died, you would not be entitled to any inheritance or social security survivor benefits, as a legal spouse would be. Thus, in order to be legally bound in some way, same-sex couples began adopting, so as to establish a familial bond in the eyes of the law, and thus be entitled to certain benefits enjoyed by family members (such as inheritance, etc.). According to the CNN article, this was not a rare phenomenon!

So, when same-sex marriage became legal in Pennsylvania, the couple obviously wanted to get married, but couldn’t. They went to court and requested that the adoption be annulled because, obviously, it is illegal for a parent to marry his or her own child. That’s where the couple hit a snag; the judge denied their request to annul the adoption. Although other same-sex couples have been successful in getting their adoptions annulled, this couple was not so fortunate. Now, they must appeal the trial judge’s decision before they can enjoy the wedding of their dreams.

See the full CNN article by clicking HERE

It doesn’t seem as though the couple would have run into the same problem if they were California residents. The procedure for terminating an adult adoption in California is set forth in Family Code Section 9340. This section states that an adult who has been adopted can file a petition to terminate the relationship of parent and child. If the adoptive parent consents to the termination, in writing, the court may issue an order terminating the relationship. If the adoptive parent does not consent in writing to the termination, the judge will schedule a hearing, after which a final decision on the matter will be made. But, since in this case both parties wanted out of the adoption, the California rules would have allowed it without requiring a judge’s decision first.

Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only lawyer in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

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