Brief Filed in Custody Dispute

— Heidi Sfiligoj, News Staff


NASW has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case before the North Carolina Court of Appeals addressing a custody dispute between a same-sex couple.

In the case Boseman v. Jarrell, Melissa Jarrell has requested that the court void a final adoption order to which she agreed over three years ago and, therefore, destroy the parent-child status between the child and his second parent, Julia Boseman. In the brief, NASW argues that North Carolina law and public policy bar this from happening and asks the court to respect the 2005 final adoption order.

NASW supports the lower court's ruling that it is in the best interest of the child that both Boseman and Jarrell continue to be recognized as the legal parents.

In supporting the lower court's decision, NASW makes the following arguments:

  • Social science research confirms that, where the parent is fit, the attachment relationship between children and their non-biological gay and lesbian parents should be protected and maintained.
  • Numerous courts have accepted the social science research in recognizing that it is in the child's best interest to respect a child's adoption by a second parent.

The brief highlights research on the critical nature of parent-child attachment for healthy child development, regardless of a biological or legal connection between the parent and child, or the parents' sexual orientation.

"For the reasons above, the lower court's orders respecting the finality of the adoption order and granting joint custody of the child to appellant and appellee should be affirmed," the brief concludes.

NASW was joined in its brief by the association's North Carolina Chapter; the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, a professional group that aims to promote and protect the rights of women under the law; and the North Carolina Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, a volunteer association that supports foster and adoptive parents in the state.

The brief was filed through the pro bono services of attorney Ellen W. Gerber.

Get more information from the Amicus Brief Database.