Because of a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, many gay couples who had used adoption as a legal strategy will now be able to get married. Here’s how it works.
Prior to the 2014 ruling that invalidated Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act, gay couples in Pennsylvania frequently used adoption as a means of protecting inheritance rights. However, under state laws, a person could not marry someone he had adopted, so those same couples had to seek to have their adoptions dissolved before they could marry. Many of them ran into obstacles, as judges frequently held that the state’s adoption laws did not allow for the termination or dissolution of an adoption, absent a showing of fraud or misrepresentation.
In a decision handed down on Wednesday, December 21, the state’s high court ruled that Pennsylvania allows an “unopposed annulment or revocation of an adult adoption.” The parties to the lawsuit, who have been in a committed relationship since 1970, are a 69-year-old man and his 80-year-old partner. They had asked the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas to dissolve their adoption in June of 2015, but the court said it lacked the authority to do so under state law.
The court acknowledged that other states, with similar adoption provisions, had permitted adult adoptions to be dissolved under similar circumstances. The court remanded the matter to the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas with instructions to terminate the adoption, so that the parties can get married. The parties to the lawsuit said they thought the matter was a lost cause, as the high court had taken a long time to return a decision.