Experienced Assistance for Domestic Partnership Issues, LGBT Estate Planning & Adoption
Kathleen Womack Attorney at Law of Atlanta, Georgia, understands the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender LGBT residents. The majority of her legal practice deals with Estate Planning, Domestic Partnership issues, Probate, Step Parent Adoption, and Second Parent Adoption for the LGBT community. She will ensure that you and your loved ones receive the respect and rights you deserve. Since graduation from Emory University School of Law in 1986, she has been representing LGBT individuals and couples with their legal needs.
Protecting Your Family of Choice
If same-sex couples choose not to marry each other, they must find other ways to protect their relationships and their families. Without proper estate planning preparation, state law may grant important rights and privileges to your biological relatives, to the exclusion of your domestic partner.
Legal Preparedness - Domestic Partner Package
Lesbian and gay LGBT couples may choose several documents to protect their important relationships. The basic Domestic Partner Package consists of a Last Will and Testament, Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care, and Durable Financial Power of Attorney. By signing these Domestic Partner Package documents, you and your loved one gain the power to protect your legal, medical, and financial affairs from control by your biological families. Otherwise you may find yourself excluded from your domestic partner's hospital room, denied the ability to plan or be included in your domestic partner's funeral, or find yourself locked out of your home because you were not legally protected. Once a crisis happens, it is too late to fix the situation. Don't leave your domestic partner at the mercy of your family or the laws of the State of Georgia. Call Kathleen today at 404-303-0130 to get your legal estate planning affairs in order.
Domestic Partnership Drafting
Kathleen is ready to help you draft your domestic partnership agreements. Even though Same Sex Marriage is now recognized in Georgia and around the country, many same sex and some opposite sex couples choose to remain unmarried. Those unmarried couples are still considered "Domestic Partners", and do not have the legal rights recognized by married couples. Those involved in domestic partnerships need an added level of financial and personal protection created by legal documents. Your verbal mutual agreements on these important matters may not safeguard you from future disputes and may not be enforceable. The best protection would be for the same sex or opposite sex unmarried couples to execute Domestic Partner Agreements, Co-habitation Agreements, Joint Property Agreements, or Prenuptial Agreements to protect each partner's individual rights in the event of a Domestic Partner dissolution.
Name Change Petitions
Many couples wish to share the same last name, particularly when minor children are involved. This process involves filing a verified name change petition in the Superior Court of the county of your residence, followed by a court appearance after a thirty day waiting period.
Second Parent Adoption
Many same-sex couples in Georgia are raising children together as a family. If a child is born biologically to a woman in a domestic partnership with another woman, only the birth mother is considered to be a legal parent. The domestic partner is treated as a legal stranger to the child, even though the couple may have planned together to have the child through anonymous donor insemination and to raise the child together in a family as co-parents. A second parent adoption provides all the same rights and responsibilities to the adopting parent that the legal parent has, including the rights to make decisions for the child, to provide the child with health insurance, inheritance benefits, and other government benefits, and in the event of separation of the couple, the rights to custody and visitation, and the obligation to pay child support. Unless the domestic partner is declared to be a legal parent by court order in a second parent adoption proceeding, that domestic partner runs the risk of being denied the ability to parent her child in the event the parties separate, or the biological mother dies without proper legal planning in place. Protect the rights of your domestic partner and your child. Kathleen can help with the appropriate legal documents, including second parent adoption.
Transgender Issues - Name Changes and new Birth Certificates
It is important that Transgender individuals be able to deal with an attorney that is sensitive to their particular needs. Kathleen has handled multiple name change petitions in Superior Courts in Georgia, for both male to female, and female to male transgender individuals. To change the gender on a Georgia birth certificate, you must have a sworn statement from your surgeon indicating that your gender has been changed by surgical procedure, as well as a court order finding there has been a change of gender by surgical procedure. We can file the paperwork for you to obtain the necessary court order to submit to the Georgia Department of Vital Records to have a new birth certificate issued with the correct gender designation and name, with no reference to the past name and/or gender.
Same Sex Marriage, Gay Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships in Georgia
Same Sex marriage finally became legally recognized in Georgia since the United States Supreme Court decision June 26, 2015. It is important for all same sex married couples who already have estate planning documents to make sure that the change in the legal recognition of their same sex marriage did not affect the validity of any of their current documents. All unmarried Lesbian and gay couples are still considered to be "domestic partners" and are still without any legal rights, except for those rights granted to them by executing estate planning legal documents. To obtain any protections for their relationships under the laws of the State of Georgia, such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights, couples must enter into the basic written documents described in the basic Domestic Partner Package referenced above. Being registered as Domestic Partners in any city or county, or having entered into a Civil Union in another state does not give a same sex couple the legal rights as being legally married.