The rise of increasingly advanced reproductive technology, such as artificial insemination, has led to a number of very complicated court cases in recent years. It’s a common complaint that the law is slow to catch up with our technology, making it difficult for family law judges and attorneys to make sense of new and highly unique situations. These court cases can often take a great deal of time and effort to resolve.
One such situation came to a close recently after a years-long court battle. The case revolved around a lesbian couple who used an anonymous sperm donor to conceive a child. Unlike most artificial inseminations, however, the woman who would bear the child did not use her own egg – she used her partner’s.
As a result, the child was, biologically speaking, the woman’s partner’s. Before the child was born, the couple signed a joint-parenting agreement that gave each parent certain rights and responsibilities regarding the child’s custody, care and visitation.
A year after the baby was born, however, the couple broke up. The biological mother sought to claim custody of the child, based on her right of biological parentage. The birth mother fought back, stating that although she was not the biological mother, she had signed a co-parenting agreement and had a clear interest in the child’s wellbeing.
The court case was hard-fought, eventually rising to the level of the state Supreme Court. Justices there finally ruled in favor of the birth mother, however, and gave legal maternity rights to both parents.
Cases such as this one are rare, but important. They offer guidelines and precedents for future parents, allowing similar cases to be solved more easily. Of course, most child custody cases are not nearly as complicated as this one. Many can be resolved relatively quickly and easily, landing on a solution that works for the best interests of the child.
RGJ.com, “Court: Nevada mom who used partner’s egg can seek child custody” Sandra Chereb, Oct. 04, 2013