You all know I’ve been following that trial in Michigan where a lesbian family brought a challenge to MI’s restriction on who can adopt. The trial itself ended yesterday and now the matter rests with the judge. An opinion is expected in a couple of weeks.
To recap briefly, MI only permits married couples to adopt jointly–which gives the adopted child two legal parents. The plaintiffs in Michigan are two women (April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse) who are a longtime lesbian couple. One woman has adopted two special needs children from foster care, the other has adopted one special needs child from foster care. Each of the three children has one legal mother (and one non-legal mother–by which I mean a social/psychological mother who has no legal status.)
DeBoer and Rowse originally challenged the adoption restriction but the judge suggested broadening the challenge to include MI’s restriction on who can marry. Continue reading
I’ve got a couple of recent posts up about the marital presumption. I thought I’d add another case–this one from Mississippi. It’s not a marital presumption case, as you can see. (If anyone can help me understand why it isn’t, I’d be grateful. Is it possible that MS no longer uses the presumption? Do tell if you know.) But the facts are similar to the recent CA case I wrote about and there is a presumption at work.
So here’s the story. Anne and Jake had an intimate relationship before the married. But during that time, apparently unbeknownst to Jake, Anne had a one-night stand with Tommie. Anne got pregnant. Tommie suspected the child might be his, but he knew about Jake, too. Jake didn’t know about Tommie and so assumed that he was the father of the child.
Anne and Jake got married in June 2004 when Anne was 17 weeks pregnant. Continue reading
As you will know from earlier posts, there is a very interesting trial proceeding in Michigan. It’s a challenge to laws that prohibit a same-sex couple from marrying and therefore from jointly adopting. The plaintiffs are a lesbian couple each of whom has adopted children out of foster care. Though they have been together for quite some time, the two women cannot adopt each other’s children. This puts the children at risk in various ways–the non-adoptive mother is not a legal parent of the child.
What’s really interesting is that the trial judge is hearing live testimony from a series of expert witnesses of various sorts. You can follow along via twitter coverage or blog coverage or the local (Detroit) paper. I’m sure there will be other coverage, too, but how much can one take in.
So what to think? Continue reading
A little while back I wrote about a Michigan case involving the marital presumption. (Briefly stated, the marital presumption means that when a married woman gives birth to a child her spouse (and these days that can mean her wife) is presumed to be the legal parent of the child. That’s enough for now (you can read up on it in the earlier post). I’ll just also note that 1) all states have some form of the marital presumption and 2) it’s a presumption about LEGAL parentage–who is the legal parent of the child.)
As I’ve said, different states have different versions of the presumption. It can be easier or harder to rebut, depending on where you are, for example. MI, we now know, has a version that allows a husband to invoke it even if his (ex-)wife doesn’t want him to. This means he can claim legal parentage of a child that is genetically related to his wife and another man. Continue reading
I’m stepping out of discussions about the marital presumption for a moment to raise what is really a much broader issue. Generally the choices people make when advocating for any particular rule in family law (and in law generally, I would guess) are driven by some goal that they are trying to achieve.
For instance, in family law many people advocate for particular legal arrangments because they care about the well-being of children. Indeed, it is probably fair to say that the well-being of children is the single most broadly agreed upon goal of family law. There are other goals you an advance of course—interests of and/or fairness to adults, say. But the consideration of children—for a whole range of reasons–is often centrally placed in the debate.
Now the fact that many people agree on the centrality of the well-being of children does not mean that people agree on what family law should be. Continue reading
This is going to just be a short post to tie a couple of threads together. Yesterday I blogged about the marital presumption, using a recent MI case as my example. A few weeks ago I blogged about the problem of finding two legal parents for a newborn child. (That’s a particular problem for me, as the post I linked to and an earlier one explain.).
Anyway, it occurred to me that it was worth noting that the marital presumption is the way we generally solve the problem of finding a second legal parent for a newborn. One parent is the woman who gives birth and the second is her spouse–until recently her husband, but now in some states potentially her wife. Continue reading
There has been a lot of discussion of the marital presumption here, even though I actually haven’t posted on it recently. (It’s part of the discussion in the comments on the last post–one about surrogacy–for example.) Since this very recent case from Michigan crossed my desk, I thought I’d use it as an opportunity to offer a few thoughts. (You can find much more discussion under these posts if you like.)
A few explanatory words, first. (Some of this is quite repetitious if you have been reading the comments closely, for which I apologize. But for others this might be useful.)
The marital presumption is an ancient one–quite literally hundreds of years old. The idea (originally) was that if a married woman gave birth, the husband was presumed to be the father of the child. Continue reading
I have some hesitation about returning to the general topic of birth certificates as I know many people get quite wrought about it. But there’s a bunch of different stories out there on the topic so I’ll have a go on it. However, I want to try to set the stage first.
Birth certificates—at least in the US–are rather peculiar documents. Some of what is on them at least looks like a historical record. So for example, birth certificates routinely list the time of birth. That would seem to be in the nature of a historical record–a formal noting of a particular thing happening at a specific time and place. (Place is also in that category.)
But then there are some other things on birth certificates that, though they look like the stuff of historical records, aren’t. One–and the one that has been discussed the most extensively here–is “parents”–or as it sometimes appears “mother” and “father.” US birth certificates do not necessarily list the name of the woman who gave birth–which it seems to me would be the most obvious historical fact they might reflect. Continue reading
In the category of “this just in”–the Supreme Court of Idaho published an opinion today in which it concludes that Idaho law permits a lesbian to complete a second-parent adoption. This warrants at least a short post. I’ve written about second-parent adoptions in the past, (and very recently about NY decision denying a second-parent adoption) but let me do a quick recap:
Second-parent adoptions are of particular importance to lesbian families. If a lesbian couple decides to raise kids, one way to do that is for one woman to give birth to the child. By virtue of giving birth, she will be deemed a legal parent of the child. Continue reading
I’m in the midst of trying to develop a theory of parenthood that solves my “only one parent at birth” problem. (Check out yesterday’s post if this makes no sense to you.) But I need to interrupt myself to talk about this story from today’s NYT. It’s not totally off-point because it concerns the marital presumption of legal parenthood, which has been a topic of conversation in the comments recently.
So here are the basic facts of the NY case. A lesbian couple (Amalia C and Melissa M) decided they wanted to have a child. Melissa gave birth to a child. Amalia sought to complete a second-parent adoption–a process that would make her the child’s second parent without disturbing Melissa’s rights. This is a well-recognized process in NY.
But, according to the judge considering the adoption, there was a problem: The two women had gotten married in 2011 and NY recognized this marriage. Continue reading