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Nonbiological same-sex parents: What are your rights?

If you're a member of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community in North Carolina, you're well aware of the fact that LGBTQ parental rights haven't been high on our state's legal agenda. However, last month, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a ruling that supported the cause of same-sex spouses, and particularly those who are parents.

In the lawsuit, Moriggia v. Castelo, the Court of Appeals ruled to solidify the right of a nonbiological parent to move forward with a child custody lawsuit against a biological parent. The result of this decision is being heralded as a positive step forward for the parental rights of same-sex spouses who hope to be parents.

More specifically, according to the ruling, nongenetic parents have the ability to sue genetic parents when the genetic parents act in a way that is inconsistent "with their constitutionally protected rights." The ruling instructs courts to make decisions on child custody matters like this by considering:

  • Behaviors before and after the child's birth that determine whether the genetic parent acted as a parent or not.
  • The intention of the genetic parent to build a family with the nongenetic parent -- even if the genetic parent decides to change his or her mind at a later moment.
  • The nongenetic parent who wants custody does not need to be married to the genetic parent, nor does the nongenetic parent need to have adopted the child concerned.

The landmark ruling relating to Moriggia v. Castelo is a great step forward for LGBT rights in North Carolina. If you are a nongenetic parent who wishes to pursue a child custody matter, a family law attorney can provide more information on what this ruling could mean for your child custody plans.

Source:, "LGBTQ parental rights in a post Obergefell world," accessed Nov. 03, 2017

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