Diana Adams Law & Mediation, PLLC
July 2017 Newsletter

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Greetings from Diana Adams Law & Mediation, PLLC!

Hello everyone! Happy summer! Thank you for subscribing to the newsletter for Diana Adams Law & Mediation, PLLC. This monthly newsletter keeps you informed about the legal and activism work we are doing to support LGBTQI, polyamorous, and other nontraditional families.

In this month’s newsletter:

  • Diana Interviewed in the New York Times on Second Parent Adoptions for Same-Sex Couples with Our Clients Profiled
  • Diana Interviewed in Psychology Today on Child Custody and Polyamorous Families
  • Andy’s Recent Training Seminars: Legal Name Changes and Ethical Non-Monogamy
  • Great News from the U.S. Supreme Court for Non-Biological Parents
  • Diana is in New York through July! Book an Appointment Now

Diana Interviewed in the New York Times on Second Parent Adoptions for Same-Sex Couples with Our Clients Profiled

In a June 20, 2017 article in the NYT about Same Sex Marriage and Parenting, Diana was interviewed regarding the need for Second Parent Adoptions, even after gay marriage:

“The Supreme Court has ruled that an adoption in one state must be honored in another, so even if a nonbiological parent is on the birth certificate — a right that stems from a recognition of the couple’s marriage — L.G.B.T.Q. family law experts strongly recommend an adoption, or some kind of judicial decree as the strongest protection.

“It seems both insulting and ridiculous,” said Ms. Sommer of Lambda Legal. “But sadly, the reality is, if you can manage it, you should do it.”

After all, what if something happens to the biological parent, and their family members want custody of the child? While traveling internationally, parental rights that stem from a judicial order are more likely to be respected than rights that come from being married if a country does not recognize your marriage. And if a couple breaks up, lawyers say that without an adoption, the nonbiological parent may have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in court to establish the right to custody.

“We don’t know which policies will continue on,” said Diana M. Adams, who owns an L.G.B.T.Q. family-law firm in New York City. “You’ll always be safer in more-conservative states and more-conservative countries if parentage is reliant on an adoption rather than on same-sex marriage.”

Two of our brave and articulate clients Alice Eisenberg and Anna Wolk were profiled with powerful words about the way this process needs to change:

“We’re still coming from a place of fear about it,” Ms. Wolk said. “I don’t feel like right now we’re going to get into trouble not having completed it, but you never know what’s going to get overturned tomorrow.” … When a second-parent adoption is finally complete, it can be a relief — but Ms. Wolk and Ms. Eisenberg said that when they leave the courthouse with their adoption decree, they have no plans to celebrate.

“I’m not going out to lunch to celebrate this,” Ms. Eisenberg said. “This feels like something, as a movement of queer people, we should be rallying against.”


We applaud Alice and Anna for speaking out to serve our community. The movement to streamline the second parent adoption process in New York is to pass the Child Parent Security Act, which would replace the arduous second-parent adoption with a simple parentage order. We’ll continue to keep you informed as to how you can support passage of this bill. Make sure your state legislators know it’s important to you. Thank you to Alice and Anna for putting a human face on this issue.

The full article is here:

Diana Interviewed in Psychology Today
on Child Custody and Polyamorous Families

Diana was recently interviewed by Psychology Today as part of an installment regarding Child Custody and Polyamorous Families. As you may know, Diana is a national authority on child custody for polyamorous parents, and consults on these cases nationwide, as well as supporting clients to avoid these conflicts.

Diana Adams, a lawyer serving New York’s LGBTQ+ families for the past 10 years, sees a significant cultural divide between red and blue states when it comes to the legal treatment of polyamorous families. “One of the greatest challenges I see facing poly parents in these cases is the incredible subjectivity of the 'best interest of the child' standard.” When litigants are not able to reach a settlement, a family judge at the county level attempts to discern “which party is telling the truth, exercising good parenting judgment, and grounded in a household that is healthy for a child.” Inevitably, these judges are influenced by their religious and personal values, as well as their previous exposure to non-monogamy (consensual or not).

Because conservative and rural areas are more likely to have conservative judges, Adams has found that polyamorous families are often at greater risk in those areas: “I have litigated throughout New York State, but I win south of Westchester in the progressive New York City region, and lose much more often in northern rural counties. I consult on these cases nationwide, and a search of zip code to discover whether a county is predominantly Republican or Democrat is unfortunately a good predictor of the difficulty the poly parents will face. As cultural divides in the US deepen, so does the gulf between conservative rural judges and open-minded judges in blue counties. The progress we are seeing for poly parents in custody cases are not shared equally nationwide."

Read the whole informative article here:

Andy’s Recent Training Seminars:
Legal Name Changes and Ethical Non-Monogamy

In late June, Andy was invited to present at two training seminars. The first was a Continuing Legal Education course on Name Changes sponsored by the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGaL) and hosted by Blank Rome, LLP, a nationwide law firm. To open the training, Andy spoke to the room of about 40 attorneys regarding cultural competency for transgender clients, including key terms, pronouns, common mistakes and problems, and making your office a welcoming place.

The second training was for Open Love NY, a social group facilitating discussions and meetings for the polyamorous community.  Andy led the workshop to examine how gender and power function in the context of ethically non-monogamous relationships in which participants will had the opportunity to learn the basics of current understandings of gender and how it works relationally in non-monogamy, then had an opportunity in the group discussion to apply these understandings to their own experience.

Andy is not only an Associate Attorney representing clients for our firm, but also an activist and educator around LGBTQ legal issues, gender, sexuality, positive consent practices and sexual communication, and de-escalation and alternative justice systems. They speak at universities, organizations, and events around the East Coast on these topics, including the LGBT Bar Association Conference, the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, Creating Change, Skidmore College, Columbia University, New York University, Rutgers University, and Harvard Law School.  Please contact us if you would like to have Andy speak or lead a training at your organization.

Great News from the U.S. Supreme Court for Non-Biological Parents

On June 26th, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in Pavan v. Smith affirming that states may not deny married same-sex couples the recognition of being listed as two parents on a child’s birth certificate.

When two married lesbian couples living in Arkansas had applied for birth certificates for their children listing both mothers’ names as parents, the state denied them because they couldn’t both be biologically related to the children. The Supreme Court ruled that the right to be listed on a birth certificate as your child’s parent is a right that springs from marriage, not from biological relation, and that it was a constitutional violation for a state to deny that right to same-sex couples.

This is another affirmation from the Supreme Court that even in all this political turmoil and instability, the courts continue to serve as a bulwark against the feared dramatic backslide on LGBTQ rights. We are glad to see Obergefell, and all the protections stemming from it that keep our clients’ families safe, holding strong.

Diana is in New York through July! Book An Appointment Now

Diana is in New York City and available to meet with clients between July 10th - 31st.  If you’d like to schedule a time to meet with Diana in person while she is in New York this month, please contact us!

Diana travels between New York City and Frankfurt, Germany, managing our European and NY offices, and is available to clients in both regions, with frequent touring of the U.S. and Europe in between. Diana welcomes opportunities to meet with clients and to teach along her travels. Please contact us if you’d like to schedule time to meet with Diana for a consultation while she is in your city or inquire about a speaking engagement.

Andy is in our office in New York City and available to clients there unless indicated below.

Wishing you and your family,
        in whatever shape it may take,
               joy, solidarity, and resistance,
                    from the team at Diana Adams Law & Mediation, PLLC,
                            Diana, Andy, and Amy
Copyright © 2017 Diana Adams Law & Mediation, PLLC, All rights reserved.  
The primary purpose of this newsletter is to be informative. Some material herein could constitute attorney advertising.

No information herein constitutes legal advice. If you would like to seek legal advice from Diana Adams Law & Mediation, please request a consultation.

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