An Indiana court battle highlights the legal issues lesbian couples planning a family in North Carolina need to consider. At issue is the acknowledgment of the non-Birth mother as a parent on the birth certificate. Two women have petitioned their regional court to force state and county officials to end alleged discriminatory practices when creating birth records.
In their specific case, one woman had her egg fertilized by a sperm donor through in-vitro fertilization and then implanted in the womb of her partner. Despite the egg-providing woman's biological connection to the baby, officials refused to place her name on the birth certificate. Instead, county officials filed the birth as "out-of-wedlock" and only named the birth mother. Women in several other states are fighting similar issues as well.
Without any legally documented relation to the baby, the woman would have no parental rights in the event that the birth mother died or became incapacitated. Their lawsuit asserts that the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution should apply to the situation and grant both mothers the right to be named on the birth certificate. Existing practices already acknowledge married men as fathers on birth certificates even when they lack biological relationships because of outside sperm donors.
Custody and visitation issues could also arise if a lesbian couple splits and one partner has no legal status as a parent. A person concerned about access to a biological or adopted child could seek information from an attorney. To petition a family court for custody, an attorney might document the parent's relationship and illustrate how maintaining a meaningful connection could be in the best interests of the child. Additionally, an attorney might negotiate a custody agreement with the former partner outside of court.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Gay Couples Challege Birth Certificate Rules", David Wells, Dec. 8, 2015
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