New Jersey judges ruled last month that Anthony Galde can move away from his ex-partner, Richard Rinko, even though they share custody of their adoptive son, J.G.-R. Although Galde is moving to Georgia, where same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt a child together, his custody arrangement will be upheld by the U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, which requires the state of Georgia to enforce the pre-existing arrangement ordered by the New Jersey court, New Jersey family lawyers say.
Rinko and Galde adopted J.G.-R. in 2004 when they lived in New Jersey, a few years after the state changed its laws to allow joint adoptions by same-sex couples. The couple separated and Galde moved to New York City with J.G.-R., entering into a custody arrangement with Rinko, who stayed in New Jersey. Since New York and New Jersey have similar laws regarding same-sex adoptions, Rinko’s parental rights would be recognized in both states, and he would have scheduled visits with his son, as well as daily Skype time.
Galde then asked to move with J.G.-R. to Atlanta, Georgia, where, after retiring as a Broadway actor, he had better employment opportunities and job offers. Although Georgia only allows adoption by heterosexual couples, Galde’s New Jersey family attorneys argued that Georgia would not interfere with Rinko’s existing rights as one of J.G.-R.’s fathers, and would be compelled to recognize him as a co-parent according to New Jersey’s laws. When the New Jersey court found that Galde had legitimate reasons for moving to Atlanta, it ruled that he could not be prohibited from moving, despite his ex-partner’s fears.
Because only the District of Colombia and 18 other states allow same-sex couples to adopt children, crossing state lines with an adopted child can cause problems for gay and lesbian couples, according to New Jersey family lawyers, and courts are constantly seeking ways to reconcile differing state laws. In Galde and Rinko’s case, the problem is not Georgia’s existing law prohibiting same-sex adoption, it is Georgia’s willingness to work with New Jersey’s court orders.
New Jersey family attorneys advise same-sex couples who are adopting or thinking about adoption to consider all possible situations in making their decisions. State laws on the rights of same-sex couples are constantly evolving, and same-sex couples will need the expertise of experienced NJ family lawyers to protect themselves and their children.
The New Jersey family attorneys at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman offer advice and counsel to same-sex couples facing legal challenges concerning adoption and relocation. We represent persons in divorce, child support, child custody, and other family law-related matters across New Jersey.