Emerging Family Law Issue: Maternity Disputes

By December 31, 2012Child Custody, Paternity

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Paternity on Thursday, December 27, 2012

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently ran an article on a developing trend in family law matters: the determination of maternity. While disputes over paternity are not unusual, it’s still relatively rare for disputes over maternity to emerge. But as technology advances, so too do those maternity questions in court and elsewhere.

With advances in reproductive technologies, it’s possible that a child today can have a birth mother, a genetic mother and the woman who is going to be the child’s parent.

Just driving across a state border can change legal relationships between parents and children. For example, New York allows same-sex marriage, but does not allow surrogacy. Utah permits women to serve as surrogates, but forbids same-sex marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court is to hear challenges to both federal and state laws next year that could decide whether same-sex couples can marry in every state and whether same-sex married couples are entitled to the federal protections and benefits accorded traditional married couples.

Other interesting pending court cases include the one to be decided by the Michigan Supreme Court in which it considers whether kids conceived by in vitro fertilization can receive Social Security benefits after the death of a parent.

That case involves a man who banked his sperm before his death by cancer. His children were conceived and born after his death.

This same sort of question could easily arise for women as technology now allows egg banking, meaning a woman can put eggs aside while healthy and then later have a baby. It’s possible, too, that the woman’s eggs could be fertilized and carried to birth by another woman.

All these cases involve legal questions that might merely hold passing interest for those not directly involved, but for those whose lives could be impacted by coming court decisions, the interest level is undoubtedly much higher. They will want to discuss and explore their evolving legal options with family law attorneys.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “‘Are you my mother?’ Sometimes, there’s no easy answer,” Cathy Lynn Grossman, Dec. 14, 2012
Our Missouri law firm handles family law matters involving St. Louis maternity and paternity issues.