When the U.S. Supreme Court made its ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, many states did not have laws in place to account for the changes that family law matters would see due to the ruling. The most challenging area thus far has been when it comes to child custody.
According to NC Policy Watch, North Carolina law specifies “husband” and “wife” in situations of assisted reproduction, which gives same-sex partners limited rights. There is only one law addressing this situation, and it does not take into account donors and surrogate situations that same-sex couples often find themselves in.
For many same-sex couples, not having specific laws can complicate things when it comes to assigning parental rights. If one partner is a donor in an assisted reproduction situation, then only that partner has parental rights for the child. The law focuses on biological connections to assign parental rights, and in most cases, only one parent has a biological connection to the child.
In most situations, the only option for one partner is to adopt his or her own child as a stepparent to receive recognized parental rights. Adoption occurs as it would in any other situation, which means it can take time and put the parent through investigations that are quite intensive.
Many feel this is unfair to a parent who should gain immediate rights to his or her child. Same-sex couples plan to have a child. They are both, from the beginning, the parents of the child, but the law does not recognize that. Instead, the parent with no biological connection has to undergo a process that requires proving he or she is worthy of gaining parental rights.