Concepts of marriage and child custody are undergoing extreme changes and transformations as the country moves steadily toward recognizing civil unions, gay marriages and possible hybrid relationships previously unknown. In North Carolina, a child custody or visitation dispute can arise when a sperm donor to a lesbian couple decides that he wants to be involved in the child's life. Such a conflict was recently resolved by a judge's family law order giving certain parental and visitation rights to the gay male sperm donor.
The court ruled that the man will also be included as the biological father on the child's birth certificate. The dispute started when the lesbian couple asked the man to relinquish any rights that he may have in the child. The man responded by suing the couple, which began a custody and visitation dispute that has gone on for the past two years.
The Miami-Dade circuit court judge made the ruling recently and apparently the parties have accepted the decision and are complying with it. It leaves primary responsibility for the child in the lesbian parents but gives the biological father visitation rights. These are on a graduated scale with the potential for increased visitation in the future. He'll have weekly visits with the possibility of overnight visits at some future point.
Counsel for the biological father referred to the process as creating entirely new ideas regarding the meaning of a family. He described the relationship as the adoption of a child by the two women with the father getting certain rights. The baby is a girl who is now two-years-old.
Even though sperm donors don't normally get parental rights, the biological father apparently brought the lawsuit based on an agreement that he claims he had with the couple. These kinds of changes in child custody and other family law concepts are occurring in North Carolina as well as in many other areas of the country. Persons entering or already engaging in a relationship with such issues may want to consider seeking professional help to assist in establishing some stable and enduring legal structures to carry on into the future.
Source: Gay Star News, "Gay sperm donor, lesbian couple reach child custody agreement," Jean Paul, Feb. 9, 2013