December 22, 2017

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE – "ANOTHER WRINKLE"As many of you are aware, the United States Supreme Court, as well as numerous Federal and State Courts and State Legislatures have legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty (50) states.  This is now settled law throughout the country.

However, because of the previous prohibition against same-sex marriage, many facets of the law continue to be clarified.  A recent case from the Pennsylvania Superior Court is illustrative. The case deals with the issue of same-sex partners that adopt each other to avoid Will contests.  This was a very common practice throughout the country since same-sex marriage was prohibited in all fifty (50) states.  To explain, same-sex partners would adopt each other so that they would have a familial relationship.  This would overcome presumptions in Will contests that they were not related.  In other words, blood relatives could not argue that they were closer to the deceased than a gay partner since the gay couple would function as a father and son, or mother and daughter under adoption law.

Fast forward to the present and you can see that this presents a real problem for gay adoptees that now wish to marry.  In the particular case at bar, the partners have been adopted as parent and child for over forty years.  They asked the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County to annul the adoptions so that they could legally marry.  This apparently had occurred in various counties in Pennsylvania since same-sex marriage became legal, but there was no statewide authority.  This all changed on December 21, 2016, with the case of In Re: Adoption of: R.A.B., Jr., 153 A.3d 332 (Pa. Super 2016).  In that case, the Superior Court held that as a matter of the first impression, the Orphans Court has the authority to annul or revoke an adult adoption, so same-sex partners can exercise their right to marry.

If you need further information about this case, or you find yourself in a situation where you wish to annul your adoption to seek a marriage license, please feel free to contact me at Steven P. Miner, Esquire of Daley Zucker, (717) 724-9821.

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