Call us: Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm, Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm

Gay couple dissolve adoption to marry

A gay couple who had previously been legally recognised as father and son have married in Pennsylvania.

Norman MacArthur and Bill Novak, now aged 74 and 76, met and began a relationship when they were in their 20s. At the time, gay marriage was not an option and that did not seem likely to change.

They registered as domestic partners in 1994 when they lived in New York City, but ran into a problem when they moved to a different state. Under Pennsylvania law at the time of their move, domestic partnerships were not legally recognised.

In an interview with Yahoo, Mr MacArthur explained that when they moved to Pennsylvania, they “had both retired and … were of the age where one begins to do estate planning”. However, they were informed by a lawyer that, due to the state laws, “the only legal avenue we had in order to be afforded any rights was adoption”.

While they initially thought the suggestion was “fairly unusual”, a little research revealed that similar couples had done the same thing. He added that if they did not take such a step, they “would be legally strangers”. As a result they would not have certain rights, such as hospital visitation.

Mr MacArthur explained:

“[H]ospitals are very constrained in what they can say to other people. If we were legally related, I would be allowed into the ER and entitled to know what Bill’s condition was if anything should happen.”

After careful consideration, the couple went through with the adoption in 2000. Fourteen years later, the state law prohibiting gay marriage was declared unconstitutional.

In May, the couple applied to a state judge to have the adoption dissolved so they could marry. Their application was granted in front of 30 of their friends. Once the fifteen year adoption had ended, the pair were finally eligible to wed, and did so last weekend.

After the wedding, Mr MacArthur said he was “incredibly happy” and that getting married was “very much worth the wait”.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

Contact us

As the UK's largest family law firm we understand that every case is personal.

Leave a comment

Help & advice categories


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for advice on divorce and relationships from our lawyers, divorce coaches and relationship experts.

What type of information are you looking for?

Privacy Policy