Law Blog

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The "New" Massachusetts Standard Birth Certificate

Historically, Massachusetts birth certificate forms have varied among individual cities and towns.  Many variations of the birth certificates listed the child’s parents as “Mother” and “Father”, posing a hurdle for gay and lesbian parents and confusion on the part of the hospitals, lawyers, and courts who work with birth certificates regularly.  Throughout the past two decades, gay and lesbian parents would find the traditional “mother” and “father” titles crossed out on their child’s birth certificate, being replaced with “co-parent” or “second parent” to more accurately reflect their family situation.

With changes officially going into effect in March of this year, Massachusetts has now standardized birth certificates with two boxes labeled “mother/parent” and “father/parent”.  This standardization serves to recognize the existence of gay and lesbian families and demonstrates a greater sensitivity to alternative reproduction and family creation.  Additionally, it helps to incorporate gay and lesbian families into the everyday framework of hospitals all around the state who are working more and more with different types of families and with various models of family creation.

As reported by Stephen Smith of the Boston Globe:

Massachusetts law has recognized gay and lesbian parents for nearly two decades, said Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality, a gay rights organization. “And yet they’ve continued to suffer the indignity of having their family formation be invisible on a fundamental form like a birth certificate. It’s about time that comes to an end.’’

Until now, Massachusetts, with its fiercely protected tradition of local rule, has had a patchwork of birth certificate forms. Each city or town could have its own. Some were kept electronically, some on paper. The state estimates that as many as 700 variations on the birth certificate existed in the state’s 351 cities and towns.

The standardization of birth certificates in Massachusetts is a step forward for gay and lesbian parents, and will hopefully end the oftentimes uncomfortable and confusing process of altering the birth certificate unnecessary.

Keep checking VAUGHN-MARTEL LAW’S Legal Blog for the most recent legal news surrounding same-sex families and alternative reproduction advances in the law.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Texas Court Ruling a Reminder to Same-Sex Parents: Plan for the Worst

Recent news out of a Texas family court has many people discussing how far this country still needs to go in recognizing the rights of same-sex couples and same-sex parents, and has Massachusetts lawyers reminding themselves that their clients are better off safe than sorry.

As reported by the Advocate, a heterosexual couple in the state of Texas divorced after having three children.  The mother was awarded custody of the children. The father, William Flowers, eventually re-married Jim Evans, a man, in Connecticut, and they traveled back to Texas to live.

After the father’s re-marriage, he attempted to obtain custody of his children in a Texas family court.  Texas bans the recognition of same-sex relationships, including Flowers’s Connecticut marriage to Evans.  The Judge, on top of denying the father custody, ordered that the father could never leave his children with any man who isn’t part of the family without Mother’s permission.  The Judge eventually changed the wording to read “any person not related to the children”, but this superficial change did nothing to assuage the GBLT media, GBLT activist groups, and lawyers all over the country.  It especially did nothing to ease the pain and indignity felt by Flowers, Evans, and their family.

This story out of Texas is a harsh warning to gay and lesbian families in states, including Massachusetts, that recognize same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting rights.  It is also a reminder to attorneys of the critical importance of making sure clients put in place all possible safeguards in order to protect their families.

Same-sex families in Massachusetts need to take every legal step available to protect their marriage and their children, so that in the event that they, their spouse, their property, or a loved one ends up within the jurisdiction of a hostile state like Texas, their relationships and property will be protected.

Important legal protections available to same-sex couples (and opposite-sex couples) include preparing a comprehensive estate plan, with property and healthcare directives, preparing domestic partnership or property ownership agreements, preparing co-parenting agreements, and petitioning for a decree of adoption of their spouse or partner’s children, among others.

The current non-uniformity of patchwork state laws concerning the recognition of same-sex relationships and families makes it all the more important for gay and lesbian families to start a relationship with a GLBTQ family practitioner and take full advantage of the legal protections offered to them.  While it is infuriating and unjust that same-sex couples must endure the cost and complexity of additional planning to protect their families, it is better to be safe than sorry.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Vaughn-Martel Law Introduces "ClientConnect" Online Client Case Management Portal

We are pleased to introduce an exciting new way for clients to view important case documents, court notices and filings, and billing information in their case at any time from any computer.  We are offering the service absolutely free of charge to all our clients.

Now, clients can send secure communications, share documents, and review and pay bills with a credit card on-line, all from their own personalized case management portal.  “ClientConnect” allows our clients to have real time access to their own case files and invoices, and all information is safeguarded using SSL encryption to ensure the privacy and security of attorney-client communications.

Visit vaughnmartel.wordpress.com to read more and explore our blog!

 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Announcing a New Legal Blog for Vaughn-Martel Law

Welcome to the legal blog for Vaughn-Martel Law, a premier Boston law firm serving a diverse community throughout Massachusetts. Check back often for legal news, discussion, and analysis in family law, estate planning, and general civil litigation issues here in Massachusetts.

Visit vaughnmartel.wordpress.com to read more and explore our blog!


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