The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Wednesday filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] challenging North Carolina's law against second-parent adoptions, which effectively bans individuals in same-sex couples from adopting their partner's child. The ban is based on state adoption regulations [NCGS § 48] which provide that unmarried individuals may not adopt a child unless the current biological or adoptive parents relinquish all parental rights. In December 2010, the North Carolina Supreme Court held [decision] that the ban could not be waived by a family court, finding that any change in the law must be enacted by the legislature. The law applies equally to all unmarried couples regardless of sexual orientation. The ACLU said in a statement that the law puts children at risk:
The current policy is discriminatory and doesn't take into account what's best for a child. These parents want the same thing as any other parents: to be able to provide the best possible care and protection for their children. The law should not stand in the way of allowing loving couples to share responsibility for their families.The lawsuit seeks to strike down the law against second-parent adoption. It was filed on behalf of six same-sex couples who wish to share parental responsibilities.
Child custody and support issues have been the subject of many state court decisions in recent years. Earlier this month the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that the same-sex partner of a parent who has adopted a child has a right to seek custody of that child after the partnership has dissolved. In February the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that same-sex couples who marry and have a child through artificial insemination [JURIST report] are subject to the same child custody laws as heterosexual couples. In May 2009 a New York state appeals court ruled that child support claims cannot be brought against same-sex partners [JURIST report] who have no biological or legal ties to a child. In 2005, the California Supreme Court ruled that estranged same-sex couples who created a child using reproductive science were to be treated the same as heterosexual parents [JURIST report] under child custody and support laws.