Divorce and child custody can always be stressful and challenging. Unfortunately, child custody cases involving LGBTQ+ parents can raise unique obstacles. Although same-sex marriage has been legal in North Carolina since the 2015 Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, custody laws are largely geared towards heterosexual couples. As a result, you'll need a family law attorney with experience working with LGBTQ+ parents who understands the issues you may face. Custody issues can arise between same-sex parents, between a former straight partner and an LGBTQ+ parent, and between a biological parent who donated sperm or an egg and an LGBTQ+ parent or couple.
Custody Issues Between LGBTQ+ Parents
When same-sex couples have a child, only one is biologically related, and often only one is named on the birth certificate. While under North Carolina law, a same-sex couple may have a birth certificate amended to include both same-sex parents, not everyone has had the opportunity to update their legal documents. Similarly, sometimes only one parent may be on the adoption papers for a child of LGBTQ+ parents, raising additional legal complications.
Custody Issues Between Straight and LGBTQ+ Parents
Although research indisputably shows that LGBTQ+ parents are just as effective as straight parents and children are just as well-adjusted as their peers, bias against LGBTQ+ parents still happens, even in court. In some cases, a straight parent may try to use the gender identity or sexual orientation of the other parent to gain an advantage during a custody dispute in court. Your lawyer, mental health professionals conducting custody evaluations, and the court must understand the relevant research, as well as current law.
Custody Issues Between Biological and LGBTQ+ Parents
LGBTQ+ parents can also face custody challenges from biological parents after using donated sperm or a donor egg, particularly when using the egg or sperm of a friend or relative. There can be three or four people vying for custody and visitation in these cases. You'll need a family law attorney well-versed in the specific custody issues faced by LGBTQ+ couples.
If you're facing possible custody issues in North Carolina as an LGBTQ+ parent, we can help. Call us at 919-719-2785 or contact us online. I'm an experienced family law attorney, and I can work with you to find the best custody solution for your family.