Alabama Court of Appeals recognizes adoptions by same-sex parents

Recognition of adoption by same sex parents is valid as held by the Alabama Court of Appeals in E.L. vs. V.L., 2130683, 2015  Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 45. Herein, parties were in a long term relationship and had three children through donor insemination. V.L., the non biological mother adopted the children in Georgia. When the parents later broke up, the biological mother, E.L. kept V.L. from seeing the children. V.L. sought visitation rights in Alabama, which was granted. E.L. appealed and argued that V.L.’s adoption should not be recognized in Alabama. The Court of Appeals ruled out in October 2014 that since the adoption took place in Georgia, it was void because the Alabama Court interpreted Georgia law as not allowing second parent adoptions.[1]

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and V.L.’s Alabama attorneys sought for case rehearing in the same court. Although courts are reluctant to rehear a case, but this being an exceptional situation, was heard.

It was held that the family court had subject matter jurisdiction to consider a same sex adoptive parent’s (SSAP) custody petition, based on a Georgia adoption judgment under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA) and 1935 Ala. Acts. The SSAP followed the UEFJA procedure and did not have to register the Georgia judgment under the Alabama Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Also, any error in the construction of Georgia law did not go to the Georgia court’s subject matter jurisdiction. The Georgia court had subject-matter jurisdiction and the judgment was entitled to full faith and credit under U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1. Consequently, the Alabama court could not refuse to enforce it on public policy grounds.

The court reversed its own ruling and unanimously held that a second parent adoption granted to the now separated same-sex parents by a Georgia court in 2007 must be recognized in Alabama and that V.L., the adoptive mother of their three children, must be recognized as their parent and allowed to seek custody or visitation. Additionally, the family court erred in awarding V.L. visitation based simply on her status as an adoptive parent under the Georgia judgment without conducting an evidentiary hearing to inquire into the best interests of the children.

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