Same-sex couples have faced a myriad of obstacles over the years. Not too long ago, these couples had virtually no legal rights in their relationship. Simply visiting an ailing partner in the hospital proved a difficult feat, not to mention the obstacles present when attempting to pass on an estate.
Some clever couples discovered a legal loophole that would result in at least some level of recognition for their relationship.
How could same-sex couples get legal rights in their relationship without a legally recognized marriage? One route to overcome some of these issues: adoption. Adult adoption was one way for couples to retain some legal rights within their relationship when marriage was not an option.
Times have changed. Couples that once sought adult adoption to validate their relationship now have the opportunity to get married. Unfortunately, the answer to the original problem has now evolved into a problem of its own.
Back to adult adoption – how can a couple get married if one partner has adopted the other? Technically, they cannot. In order to move forward with a marriage the couple would first need to nullify the adoption.
Can the couple nullify the adoption? Adoption is a very serious legal process. As such, nullification is not a simple matter. A case addressing this issue was recently heard within Pennsylvania courts.
The case went to the Superior Court. Here, a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the couple. The President Judge presiding over the case noted that although the Adoption Act does not “expressly provide for the annulment of the adult adoption, case law does allow it in certain scenarios.” She went on to elaborate that Pennsylvania law now allows same-sex couples to “exercise their fundamental right to marry.”
As such, couples that were previously forced to undergo an adult adoption to retain some level of legal rights in the relationship could move forward with the ability to annul or revoke the adult adoption and move forward with a marriage.
What does this mean for other same-sex couples in Pennsylvania? In this specific case, the Superior Court sent the case back to the lower court with instructions to dissolve the adoption.
This ruling holds true for more than just this couple. As noted in a piece in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that discussed the case, the ruling was a “victory for same-sex couples throughout Pennsylvania.” As a result, those in similar situations can likely move forward with a nullification of the adoption and transition their relationship into a marriage.