Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Utah same-sex couples able to adopt as high court lifts stay

For some people, adoption means solidifying an existing family bond or adding another member to the family. For others, it means creating a family where none existed before. Adoption has improved the lives of countless children and brought joy into the lives of even more adults. The ability to create a family through adoption is a right that until recently was denied to a many same-sex couples in Utah.

A stay in this area of law was granted in May after several district court judges ordered Utah's Department of Health to issue birth certificates to adopting same-sex couples. Since then the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear several state appeals of decisions striking down same-sex marriage bans, Utah being among them. The move allowed same-sex marriages to move forward in the states. In response, Utah officials dropped their appeal and asked the stay to be lifted.

Utah has some of the more restrictive laws in the country regarding adoption. Utah still bars adoption by unmarried cohabitating couples which, until recent U.S. federal court rulings, barred same-sex couples from adopting. Because the stay has been lifted, same-sex couples will now be able to obtain birth certificates and other necessary documents to not only finalize their adoptions, but function as real parents.

The courts are always looking at what is in the best interest of the child when making any decision involving family law issues like adoption and child custody. There is little doubt that placing children with loving families is in anything but in their best interest.

Source: KSL, "Utah Supreme Court lifts stay on same-sex adoption cases," McKenzie Romero, Oct. 23, 2014

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