The Louisiana courts have remained conveniently silent regarding de facto, or psychological, parentage in their legislation and case law. In Gill v. Bennet, a grandmother appealed a lower court ruling, claiming she was the “psychological parent” of her grandchild because of a guardianship order from an Indiana court. The court noted there are no cases or statutes expressly addressing de facto parents in Louisiana. There have been custody and visitation cases regarding claims of “psychological parent” by grandparents, which resulted in the development of La. Civ. Code Art. 136 and La.R.S. 1344. The court proceeded to address her appeal as a grandparent, or third party seeking custody from a natural parent. The court upheld the trial courts ruling awarding joint custody to the parents of the child, naming the father domiciliary parent, declining to acknowledge the grandmother as a de facto parent, but awarding her visitation under La. Civ. Code Art. 136 because “extraordinary circumstances” existed.
Adoption options in Louisiana for same-sex couples are extremely limited. The Louisiana code provides, “A single person, eighteen years or older, or a married couple jointly may petition to adopt a child through an agency.” This means that gay and lesbian couples may adopt individually. The code explicitly states that for a couple to adopt they must be married. Gay and lesbian couples cannot legally marry in Louisiana, as it is strongly against public policy. Therefore, they cannot jointly adopt a child legally.
Second parent adoption is an important tool utilized by same-sex couples in an effort to protect their parental rights in states where same sex marriage is not recognized. Although gay and lesbian parents can have their names placed on their children’s birth certificates in states that acknowledge same sex marriage, couples are still uncertain of the law outside of those jurisdictions. In states that do not acknowledge second parent adoption, courts decide custody and visitation cases arising from dissolution of a same sex relationship on a case-by-case basis.
Louisiana’s law regarding second parent adoption is not inclusive of gay and lesbian parents. Louisiana allows second parent adoption where the party seeking to adopt is married to the legal parent of the child, thus meeting the qualification of a stepparent. The limitation in this statute is that the party seeking to adopt must be married to the legal parent of the child. Consequently, same-sex marriage violates Louisiana’s public policy.
Louisiana’s public policy has not completely jeopardized the welfare of children raised is same-sex parentage. Louisiana has partially recognized a second parent adoption legally entered in California. Palazzo v. Mire, is a case relating to custody and visitation case stemming from a twenty-four year long lesbian relationship, where the couple decided to parent a child through artificial insemination. After the child...