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Bar News - July 20, 2007

Civil Union Follow-up


Editor’s Note: The Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders organization recently published a legal guide, New Hampshire Civil Unions (, providing legal advice on circumstances under which same-sex couples should or should not make use of the newly passed civil unions law in New Hampshire.


Bar News asked Attorney Susan Hassan, of the Getman Stacey Schulthess & Steere law firm in Bedford, who handles estate planning matters, to review the guide. She offered these comments:


“I think the information broadly covers the new law and offers good advice except for a couple of items.  The first item would be GLAD’s assertion that our courts would accept “domestic partnership registration” from other states, even though GLAD kept reiterating that the courts would eventually decide the issue, I believe this is a more gray area. This is a question that has to be addressed by our courts before any assertion can be made either way.


“The second item that is problematic is the information regarding a presumption that if a child is born into a civil union, both parties will be presumed to be the parent of the child by the courts in civil litigation or otherwise.  I disagree with this assumption.  On the superficial level that is correct, but this presumption is based on paternity, which can be overcome by a paternity test.  I do not believe the courts would provide the same presumption for a gay or lesbian couple. It is a bit more complicated.  The non-biological parent should adopt the child so there are no discrepancies as to who the parents of the child are.”


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