Parenthood by Estoppel? Assessing Boseman v. Jarrell and North Carolina’s Child Custody Standard

BY Andrew D. Brown

While North Carolina’s legal standards in the area of parental rights are generally consistent with the standards set forth by federal constitutional jurisprudence, the Supreme Court of North Carolina’s most recent venture into child custody analysis demonstrates that the state’s custody standard has gradually deviated in a subtle, yet significant way from federal constitutional requirements. In Boseman, the court effectively terminated the parental rights of a fit, legal parent by granting joint custody to a non-legal parent who previously had no legal rights with respect to the child. Considering the strong deference that federal jurisprudence affords to the parental rights of fit, legal parents, North Carolina’s acknowledgement of legal rights for “social parents” appears to be at odds with constitutionally protected parental liberty interests.

DOWNLOAD PDF | 90 N.C. L. Rev.Addendum 180 (2012)