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Child custody and same-sex parents

The law has come a long way when it comes to giving same-sex couples the marriage rights they have always deserved. However, even though the laws on the books have changed, it will take some time before the courts and judges develop legal precedent with regard to the interpretation of those new laws. This is especially the case when it comes to same-sex couples and child custody.

As it stands, the law generally will provide child custody to the biological mother and father of a child automatically at birth. However, if the two parents are not married, and the mother does not indicate who the father is, then the mother will automatically receive full child custody. It will then be up to the father to petition the court for paternity and associated parental rights if the mother does not willingly agree to provide them.

The situation regarding same-sex couples is different. Prior to the change in marriage laws, the only option available to same-sex couples was for both mothers and/or both fathers to legally adopt the child. This would ensure that the non-biological parent or parents would maintain his or her parental rights even if the romantic relationship were terminated.

Now, as North Carolina sees legal battles over custody in gay divorces, there remains the question of paternity with regard to the non-biological spouse who -- as of yet -- had not taken action to adopt the child. As such, child custody should be an important concern of any same-sex spouse who did not legally adopt his or her child along with the other spouse. North Carolina spouses with questions about child custody issues surrounding same-sex marriage and their children may therefore wish to speak about their situation with an experienced North Carolina child custody lawyer who can educate them on their legal rights and options.