The United States Supreme Court resolved a complicated interstate family law matter in favor of the non-biological parent.
V.L. v. E.L. involved a same-sex female couple from Alabama; using in-vitro fertilization, E.L. gave birth to three children, whom the couple raised together. To formalize the arrangement, the family briefly moved across the border to Georgia, because same-sex adoption was illegal in Alabama at the time. A Georgia court entered an order declaring E.L. and V.L. to be the children’s legal parents.
The family moved back to Alabama and remained intact until 2011, when V.L. moved out of the house. She subsequently filed a lawsuit in family court, asking an Alabama court to recognize the out-of-state adoption because E.L. was allegedly interfering with her parental rights. The trial judge granted her request, but the Alabama Supreme Court ultimately reversed the grant of visitation rights to V.L. Moreover, the court invalidated the adoption, reasoning that the Georgia court essentially disregarded Georgia law and procedure in this area.
In a straightforward unsigned opinion that carries limited precedential value, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the trial judge’s conclusions. Under the constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, the Court reasoned, states must recognize out-of-state judicial decisions unless there are extraordinary circumstances that preclude such recognition. “The Georgia judgment appears on its face to have been issued by a court with jurisdiction, and there is no established Georgia law to the contrary. It follows that the Alabama Supreme Court erred in refusing to grant that judgment full faith and credit,” the Court concluded.
Adoptions in North Carolina
A private or agency adoption cannot be legally performed until after the baby is born, but a future adoptive family may provide assistance to the mother during her pregnancy. Such assistance is limited to:
- Adoption service fees;
- Background check costs;
- Adoption counseling services;
- Expenses directly related to the birth, like the hospital bill;
- Up to six weeks of postpartum living expenses;
- Home study fee; and
- Legal fees.
To avoid the appearance of impropriety, it is a good idea for the family to pay the provider directly if at all possible, as opposed to reimbursing the mother.
In most situations, the mother has seven days to change her mind after signing the consent, and then it becomes irrevocable. As for the biological father, the petitioners must make a diligent effort to give him a copy of the adoption petition. He may either sign a consent that has a seven-day revocation period, file a legitimation action to parent the child, or do nothing and allow the operation to proceed by default.
Stepparent adoptions are normally streamlined, but they can be complicated. If the parent and stepparent have been married for at least two years, some Courts may waive the pre-placement assessment. However, if the other biological parent withholds consent for termination of parental rights, they must be stripped in a separate proceeding based on specific grounds such as abandonment, abuse, or failure to support.
Partner with Compassionate Lawyers
At Remington & Dixon, PLLC, we understand the fluid nature of many families and are committed to cost-effective solutions. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Charlotte, contact us today. Convenient payment plans are available.
Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.