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When planning for the future care of minor children, same sex couples living in New York State can and should take advantage of state adoption laws. Unlike some states that prohibit some or all types of GLBT adoption, New York State provides three legal adoption routes for gay and lesbian parents: single adoption for unmarried individuals, joint adoption for married couples or domestic partners and second parent adoption. Second parent adoption allows an individual to petition for joint custody of a child who is already a legally adopted or biological child of his or her partner. Establishing legal parentage in New York will help ensure that a couple’s parentage rights will be legally recognized in other jurisdictions.

Once a minor child has been legally adopted, parents should draft an Authorization for Consent to Medical Treatment of a Minor, detailing who is authorized to make medical decisions for the child, and appoint a guardian and successor guardians. Taking the proper legal precautions will ensure that minor children will be cared for in accordance with the wishes of their parents and primary caregivers.

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