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State laws can put paternity rights in jeopardy

As the definition of marriage continues to evolve in areas of the country like Belleville, Illinois, families all around the country are expressing their commitment to each other in both conventional and nontraditional ways. Even though the law has yet to go into effect, same-sex marriage rights have been granted in Illinois and several other states around the country. However, many more still do not acknowledge same-sex unions as legally binding. In fact, shifting legal stances on the issue in one state have left more than one parent questioning where their paternity rights lie.

One same-sex couple in the state of Utah, along with countless others, is encouraged by efforts to legalize gay marriage in the state even though the status of their own marriage is currently not legally recognized. For the moment, only one partner in the relationship is considered the legal guardian of the couple’s son because Utah state legislation does not currently identify their union as legal. The couple notes that a major custody issue over their son could ensue if the couple were to separate without first being recognized as legally married in the state.

The issue is not unique to one couple in particular since the state of Utah is home to 1,300 same-sex couples waiting to see if their marriages will be upheld by state laws once more. The federal government took a stance on the issue when the Attorney General confirmed that Utah same-sex marriages will continue to be recognized on the federal level. That comment was in response to recent actions taken by Utah’s governor to prohibit already-performed same-sex marriages from being legally binding.

Same-sex marriage was actually legalized in the state at the end of 2013, prompting the confusion over whether or not those marriages are legal now.

Source: hereandnow.wbur.org, “Utah Couple Stays Optimistic Amid Gay Marriage Limbo,” Robin Young, Jeremy Hobson, Jan. 13, 2014

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Johnson & Johnson Attorneys At Law

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