Koenig|Dunne Divorce Law is proud to have served the LGBTQ community for many years. We have partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Nebraska ACLU, and Lambda Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest organization working for gay and lesbian rights to protect and preserve the rights of the LGBTQ community.
In November 2014, Koenig|Dunne joined the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Nebraska to file a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of seven couples who sought state recognition of their marriages or who sought the freedom to marry in Nebraska. As attorneys of record in Waters v. Ricketts, Koenig|Dunne sought to overturn Nebraska’s ban on same-sex marriage as an unlawful discrimination against LGBTQ families.
Koenig|Dunne has also been a part of numerous landmark cases before the Nebraska Supreme Court and Nebraska Court of Appeals to protect the rights of LGBTQ families. These include:
- Trial counsel in Hassenstaab v. Hassenstaab, involving a mother’s right to continue custody after having a same sex relationship.
- Local counsel for over 20 national and state organizations who submitted an amicus curiae brief in the cases of Brandon v. Richardson County, a civil suit brought by the family of Teena Brandon following her murder.
- Local counsel for organizations who submitted an amicus curiae brief in In Re Luke, the first same sex couple adoption appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court.
- Counsel for lesbian adoptive mother in Russell v. Bridgens, the Nebraska Supreme Court case in which the court unanimously reversed the lower court decision to not recognize her adoption.
- Counsel for lesbian mother in Latham v. Schwerdtfeger, a Nebraska Supreme Court case in which the court found a non-biological , non-adoptive parent may bring a custody action under the common law doctrine of in loco parentis.
- Counsel for lesbian non-biological and non-adoptive mother seeking custody in Trudell v. Peterson-Vecchio and opposing a stepparent adoption of the biological parent’s new spouse in In Re Chase J.
Our legal team is also dedicated to improving the education of others in the legal profession about LGBTQ rights.
- Angela Dunne and Susan Koenig co-authored “Regardless of Sexual Orientation,” which was published in the Creighton Law Review.
- Angela Dunne and Angela Lennon co-authored, The Changing Face of Families: In the Place of Primary Parenthood, which was published in the Nebraska Lawyer magazine.
At Koenig|Dunne, we know nothing is more important to you than your family. We understand the unique challenges that LGBTQ families face we’re proud to have a strong history of advocating and protecting the rights of LGBTQ families in Nebraska.
Many gay and lesbian parents are concerned about how Nebraska courts will view their sexual orientation when determining their rights as parents.
LGBTQ Custody & Divorce:
For lesbian and gay parents who have children in the context of a marriage, some parents may be reluctant to seek a divorce out of fear that their sexual orientation will adversely impact their legal rights to their children. Other times the heterosexual parent may make threats about custody after the disclosure of the gay or lesbian parent’s sexual orientation.
No parent should reach any agreements regarding custody or other rights concerning their children without first obtaining legal advice about their rights and options. Under Nebraska law, many factors are considered when determining custody. While a court may consider the moral fitness of the child’s parents and the parents’ sexual conduct, the best interests of the minor child is paramount in the court’s determination of custody.
Nebraska has followed the trend of most states on this issue. Sexual activity of a parent, whether heterosexual or homosexual, will ordinarily impact a custody determination only under these conditions:
- The child was exposed to the sexual activity
- The child was adversely affected or damaged by reason of such activity
To protect your relationship with your children, contact Koenig | Dunne to learn more about your rights, options, and how to protect your children.
Under certain circumstances, a non-adoptive and non-biological parent may petition the court for access, parenting time, and the establishment of a legal relationship with a minor child.
The legal team at Koenig│Dunne was counsel in Latham v. Schwerdtfeger, a Nebraska Supreme Court case, which found that a person who stands in loco parentis to a child has the authority to seek custody and parenting time of a minor child. A person stands in loco parentis to a child if he or she puts herself in the situation of a lawful parent by assuming the rights and obligations incident to the parental relationship, without going through the formalities of legal adoption.
Establishing parental rights for a non-adoptive, non-biological parent is complex and very fact specific. Contact an experienced LGBTQ custody lawyer at Koenig│Dunne right away if you discover your options and potential legal rights to a child who is not biologically related or adopted by you.
Koenig│Dunne is proud to have served the LGBTQ community for many years. We have worked closely with Lamda Legal Defense Fund, which is the nation’s oldest organization promoting LGBTQ rights. We have also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as well as Nebraska’s local ACLU chapter.
Koenig│Dunne has lead the charge in numerous landmark cases before the Nebraska Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to fight for justice for LGBTQ families. In the case of Russell v. Brigdens, our legal team assisted a lesbian mother to have the adoption of her son recognized and upheld in Nebraska.
In November 2014, Koenig|Dunne partnered with The American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Nebraska to file a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of seven couples who sought state recognition of their marriages or who sought the freedom to marry in Nebraska. As attorneys of record in Waters v. Ricketts, Koenig|Dunne sought to overturn Nebraska’s ban on same-sex marriage as an unlawful discrimination against LGBTQ families.
The recent United States Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges now allows all Nebraskans the freedom to marry and to have their marriages recognized by the State of Nebraska. Along with obtaining state protections and rights of marriage, same-sex married couples are now also afforded access to stepparent adoptions.
Adoption is a process that creates a legal parent-child status between parties who do not have a biological parent-child relationship. Once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents have the same rights and obligations as legal or biological parents and acquire rights such as custody and inheritance.
Stepparent adoption is a permanent transfer of parental rights and responsibilities. Once a stepparent adoption is finalized, it cannot be revoked or nullified, except in very rare and serious situations. The adoption is not terminated if the parents’ subsequently divorce.
To be eligible for a stepparent adoption, certain legal requirements must be met, including, but not limited to:
- The adopting and legal parent must be married.
- The adoptive parent must be a resident of Nebraska for at least one year prior to filing.
- The child’s other legal parent must relinquish his or her parental rights.
- The child’s other legal parent must consent to the adoption. If no other legal parent exists, your attorney will be able to advise you on the options to finalize the stepparent adoption.
- If the child is 12 years or older, the child must consent to the adoption.
When the adoption is completed, the child and family will have the following benefits:
- A new name for the child may be established (if desired).
- A new birth certificate may be obtained.
- The child will have two legal parents.
- The child will have the ability to inherit from adoptive parent.
Contact Koenig|Dunne to learn more about obtaining a stepparent adoption in Nebraska. Let our compassionate and experienced legal team support you through the process of legally establishing the recognition and rights of your family.