Guardianship and Adoption

Adoption Law for Non-Traditional Parents

New Hampshire | Massachusetts

Gay and lesbian partners do not have the same rights in adoption as their heterosexual counterparts. Our attorney offers experienced counsel to establish adoptions or guardianship and preserve the rights of GLBT clients. We also represent clients in adoption/custody litigation after a dissolution or break-up.

Salem Legal Services, LLC is a Salem, New Hampshire, family law practice that serves the Merrimack Valley and the surrounding counties in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. We represent anyone in adoption and guardianship issues, but we have special experience in helping same-sex couples overcome significant legal obstacles. Call (603) 509-9428 to arrange a consultation.

  • Second parent adoption — One or both partners may have a biological connection to the child, through artificial insemination or donated sperm for a surrogate pregnancy. In Massachusetts (and oftentimes in New Hampshire also), the non-biological parent can petition for a second parent adoption to gain equal parental status.
  • International adoptions — Some foreign countries (and the U.S. agencies that arrange them) will not allow same-sex couples to adopt. In fact, we usually counsel clients not to enter a gay marriage or civil union until after one parent adopts the child overseas. We can then help the partner establish rights through adoption or guardianship.
  • Stepparent adoptions — If you have entered a same-sex marriage or civil union with someone who already has a child, we can help you formally adopt the stepchild.
  • Guardianship — If you have not entered a civil union, or performed a same sex marriage in New Hampshire, guardianship is the next best thing to ensure parental status in New Hampshire. In a guardianship, the legal parent grants guardianship of the child to his / her partner, subject to a judge's approval. Now that New Hampshire recognizes civil unions as of Jan. 1, 2008, and gay marriage (since 2010), second parent adoption rights should be extended to married couples.


The partner who has not legally adopted or established guardianship is at a disadvantage in the event the partnership ends. Even with these protections, an ex-partner who is the natural parent may challenge the adoption agreement to deny shared custody or visitation. We represent either party in custody, adoption and surrogacy disputes, including defending against challenges by outside parties (family members).

Darlene Daniele is an experienced trial lawyer with extensive experience in working with same-sex partnerships, custody law and child support disputes. Salem Legal Services, LLC has practiced in family law since 1991, with a focus on GLBT legal issues. We have been involved in the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case (In re Tammy) that established second parent adoption for gay and lesbian couples, and she has been active in the push for civil unions and same-sex marriage.

Arrange a consultation at our comfortable Salem office by calling 603-898-6954. Evening and weekend appointments available.

Salem Legal Services, LLC represents individuals of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, including (NH) Salem, Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Derry, Laconia, Exeter, and Rockingham, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Strafford, Belknap and Grafton counties; (MA) the Merrimack Valley and North Shore communities of Haverhill, Lowell, Worcester, Boston and Middlesex, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Worcester counties