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Other Third-Party Legal Agreements
What to do if a second-parent adoption is unavailable. Not all states allow second-parent adoptions.
If second-parent adoption is unavailable where you live, you should prepare a written co-parenting agreement or a custody agreement with your partner.
It is important to recognize that these steps are not guaranteed to secure your parental rights because courts are not required to uphold such agreements. However, it is still recommended that you complete such agreements so that they may be used to demonstrate your intention to the court if ever needed.
Custody agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements in that they outline ahead of time how you agree to conduct yourself during your relationship and how to behave in the event of a break-up. Alternatively, some couples manage to develop such agreements after deciding to separate, especially if their separation is an amicable one. In either event, preparing a custody agreement with your partner can provide a non-legal parent with a much greater degree of control in the event of a separation.
Because family law varies from state to state, it is recommended that you consult an attorney familiar with these issues in your state for help drawing up such documents.