by Emily Roberts, Marketing Director and Office Manager
I’ve always been a list maker, especially for vacation. Growing up, my mom would make us a packing list for every trip we ever took. As an adult, I’ve kept that tradition going.
As a queer couple, my wife and I have to think beyond toiletries and clothes. Before taking any trip, we grab our “to go” packet of important legal documents that we always have with us. We also keep a digital copy of these documents on our phones so they will always be close at hand. The last few years has seen a whirlwind of changes for queer families and it’s encouraging to see. However, we also live in the real world and there are real people who we encounter wherever we go that may choose not to respect our family.
At the Law Offices of Jenny Ling, PLLC, we recommend that you have these documents on hand where ever you travel:
1. Marriage license—This is to prove that my wife and I are actually married and entitled to all rights and privileges of married people. According to Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same sex marriage in all states, a marriage in one state is legal in all states. But my fear is that a hospital administrator or county clerk would not take our word for it that we are married. This is our proof.
2. Birth certificate for your children —WA state allows all married couples to be on a child’s birth certificate, regardless of gender. This document proves that both my wife and I are the legal parents of our child.
3. 2nd Parent Adoption Order—Even though WA state law says that my wife is a legal parent of our child, we cannot be guaranteed that all states will respect her parentage on the birth certificate. That’s why it’s imperative that all queer couples in a similar situation (one parent not biologically related to the child) go through the process of 2nd parent adoption. All states are required to honor an adoption order of any state, regardless of their own public policy.
4. Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters & Health Care Power of Attorney—These common estate planning documents are especially important for queer couples. They are legal documents that all US jurisdictions are required to honor stating who we want to make financial or health care decisions for us in the event of our incapacity.
At the Law Offices of Jenny Ling, PLLC, with offices in Seattle and Bellevue, our focus is on making sure you and your family are taken care of and protected. We call it planning for your legal life. Contact Us and we’ll help YOU prepare for your next vacation!