Many years ago Norman MacArthur and Bill Novak registered an adoption. Novak is considered the “father” and MacArthur the “son,” and it was done in an effort to consolidate their communal estate and gain access to medical care legally, even though the pair were not seen as couple within the eyes of the law according to MacArthur and Novak’s lawyer, Terry Clemons.
The pair have been together for 50 years and had registered in New York City as domestic partners back in 1994. But then they moved to Pennsylvania, and things got tricky all over again. In Pennsylvania, the “domestic partnership” wasn’t recognized by the state and they were, once again, left with no way to confirm their union. Remember too, this was before same-sex marriage agreements were yet to be popular and were not offered in an state, let alone supported largely by the community. MacArthur told Patch about his woes.
“The time came about to do estate planning. We were told at that time ‘hell would freeze over before Pennsylvania approves same sex marriage’.”
So what were they to do?
This is how they came across the novel idea of one partner adopting the other – to legally become father and son – in an effort to make sure there would be no complications with their estate if one person should die. While this sort of adoptive situation normally involves any living parents, for this couple, both sets of parents were deceased, making the process a lot easier and they were soon declared father and son.
This “father” and “son” approach worked well until the United States District Court declared Pennsylvania’s marriage laws prohibiting same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in 2014. In their excitement, the pair decided to finally marry finally. Now the clever father and son adoption scenario proved an obstacle to their marriage. After all, Pennsylvanian law – along with most states – doesn’t permit the marriage of close relatives, including fathers to sons – even if the couple are not even biologically related. So their ideal father and son arrangement that solidified their estate was now the very thing preventing the adoptive father and son from being wed.
So what happens now?
Last week the adoptive father and son were back in court. This time to nullify their adoption. And, according to the state of Pennsylvania, the “father” and “son’s” Petition to Vacate Adoption Decree was approved and the couple are now legally separated from each other in the family sense and can pursue a more binding commitment in the future.
[Image credit: Patch]