Being an LGBT in New Mexico: What Are Your Marriage and Parental Rights?

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New Mexico is home to hundreds of LGBTs who may get married. Some also plan to build families or maintaining one as of the moment.

If you’re in this situation, it helps to know your rights – and obligations – under the state law. This is especially essential if your life already involves children. For pressing matters, you can always work with family law attorneys, but this information helps you to participate better in the discussion and decision making.

Same-Sex Marriage in New Mexico

Even before the federal rules made same-sex marriage constitutional, New Mexico was already in an exciting spot. It neither made the union prohibited or allowed.

In turn, some county clerks issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while others did not. To clarify, Rose Griego and her partner, as well as another lesbian couple, sued the Bernalillo County after its clerk refused to issue the license.

On December 19, 2013, the state’s supreme court ruled that all county clerks should provide a marriage license to same-sex couples as long as they’re qualified, making such unions legal in New Mexico. With this, the parental rights and responsibilities of same-sex couples in New Mexico only broadened.

Parenting in New Mexico

parents and kidsIn New Mexico, single LGBTs can adopt children as long as they are eligible. The court believes the individual is a suitable adoptive parent. For instance, they have a stable income capable of meeting the needs of the child, and they can provide a safe, loving home.

If this person marries the same sex who doesn’t have a child, the latter can adopt the former’s kid without the spouse under the step-parent adoption guidelines. The same ruling also applies if the children were a product of the spouse’s former heterosexual relationship.

If both same-sex couples do not have a child from any of their previous relationships, they can still adopt together, or one of them can apply for adoption while the other simply co-parents.

The problem could arise, though, if the couple decides to separate. LGBT couples can then learn from a precedent with the Chatterjee v. King case.

The Uniform Parentage Act 

Taya King and Bani Chatterjee used to be a couple. During their relationship, both decided to raise a child together and promised the court that they are committed to maintaining such a domestic union.

King eventually adopted a child from Russia. Chatterjee never became a legal adoptive parent but emotionally and financially supported her family for years until the couple dissolved their relationship.

King moved out of New Mexico and into Colorado. She also prevented Chatterjee from having any contact or building a relationship with the child.

This prompted Chatterjee to petition the supreme court through the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) to establish her parentage to assert her right to child custody and time-sharing. The UPA, however, clearly mentions “natural father.”

Fortunately, the supreme court ruled in favor of Chatterjee, saying that the provision extends to her, having fulfilled an obligation natural fathers do.

New Mexico also recognizes presumed parentage. In different-sex couples, the partner of the woman who gave birth is assumed to be the legal father. The ruling allowed this presumption to extend to same-sex couples.

Surrogacy and Assisted Reproduction

New Mexico doesn’t prohibit surrogacy even for same-sex couples, but it also doesn’t explicitly say that it allows such an arrangement. It doesn’t recognize a gestation agreement automatically.

With assisted reproduction options, such as in vitro or artificial insemination, New Mexico rules are gender-neutral. Same-sex couples can opt to find a donor, or one might consent to provide their egg or sperm to conceive the child.

This suggests that one is the biological or natural parent of the kid. What happens to the other?

They can refer back to the Chatterjee v. King ruling, which suggests that the determination of paternity must also apply to the determination of maternity. Marriage further cements that. But a lawyer might advise the other same-sex parent to legally adopt the child to avoid difficult situations later.

New Mexico strives to uphold the rights of LGBT couples, especially concerning marriage and parentage. Like different-sex couples, they can adopt a child or assert their right to custody. They can undergo surrogacy or assisted reproduction.

However, in many situations, the state still depends on archaic laws. Same-sex couples who wish to take their relationship to a higher level should contact a family lawyer. They can guide them throughout the process and help them decide soundly.

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