North Carolina's Laws on Assisted Reproductive Technology and Parentage

Understanding North Carolina's Laws on Assisted Reproductive Technology and Parentage

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) encompasses medical procedures used primarily to address infertility. This includes all fertility treatments in which either eggs or embryos are handled. In North Carolina, as in many states, laws have evolved to address the complex legal issues surrounding ART, particularly those relating to parentage.

In North Carolina, the legal framework for determining parentage in the context of ART is somewhat nuanced. The state adheres to the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA), which has been adopted in several forms across various states to provide a consistent approach to determining parentage.

Parentage Under Assisted Reproductive Technology

For children conceived through ART, North Carolina law recognizes the intended parents as the legal parents under certain circumstances. This typically requires an agreement prior to conception. For instance, if a gestational surrogate is used, the intended parents must have a gestational agreement in place that is validated by a court prior to the child’s birth.

A pivotal case in North Carolina regarding ART and parentage is Boseman v. Jarrell, where the Court of Appeals of North Carolina dealt with the parental rights of partners in a same-sex relationship where one partner had a child through artificial insemination. The court recognized the non-biological mother’s parental rights based on her consent to and involvement in the conception and parenting process.

Donor Rights and Anonymity

In terms of sperm or egg donors, North Carolina law generally holds that donors have no parental rights or obligations if they donate through a licensed physician. However, donations not facilitated by a physician may not provide the same protections, and donors may inadvertently acquire parental rights or responsibilities.

Legal Challenges and Considerations

Legal challenges often arise when there is a lack of clarity in agreements or when disputes occur post-conception. It is crucial for all parties involved in ART arrangements to have clear, legally binding agreements that define parental rights and expectations. Additionally, North Carolina family law attorneys must stay abreast of changing laws and legal precedents that impact parentage determinations.


As assisted reproductive technologies continue to advance, North Carolina's laws on ART and parentage will likely continue to evolve. Individuals considering ART should consult with legal professionals who specialize in this area to ensure their parental rights are protected and clearly defined.