This post grows out of an exchange in the comments on an earlier post. Ki Sarita (not sure about how I should capitalize that) and I have been having an exchange about whether I (or perhaps more narrowly, my opinions?) are anti-male. In fairness, I think Ki Sarita’s views here are based on far more than that one posting as she is a long-time reader/commenter here. But I’m going to focus on that post (which is about a case involving a doctrine called “de facto parentage”) in order to make a few points. I realize they may not address the full scope of Ki Sarita’s argument but I want to make what is perhaps a subsidiary point. I’m also going to have to cover some background before getting to my point, so some of you may wish to skim ahead.
The idea in de facto parentage is that the law should recognize and protect existing psychological/social parent/child relationships. De facto parentage is probably most important where a legal parent co-parents with someone who, for whatever reasons, doesn’t gain status as a legal parent in any other way. Continue reading
Okay–I’m past most of those milestones, back into the semester, and here I am. Ready (?) to go for a new academic year. So I pick up in a random place, dictated by this mornings paper.
Our local paper (The Seattle Times) has its own slender magazine. This morning it features this story about “the good divorce.” (If you can get to the pictures on-line there are some nice ones.)I know that there are all sorts of questions about whether any divorce can be good, but that’s not the direction I want to go here.
Instead, I want to look at the family that is at the heart of the story and use that think about how law interacts with social reality. (I am choosing to say “family” rather than “families” and that, no doubt, could be another point of discussion.) Continue reading
Sorry to be gone so long. This is a stretch of my life that includes a variety of momentous events (bat mitzvah of daughter, son going off to college, daughter starting high school–and all in three weeks) as well as those that are ordinary in the academic life (starting fall classes) and it is just wildly busy.
Anyway, there’s an article in today’s NYT about the use of DNA testing in India. Though it’s not perfect, it’s certainly worth a read and it provides some food for thought/discussion.
For the most part, the article looks at how the rise of cheap, easy and accurate DNA testing is playing out in situations where the paternity of married men is questioned. In this context, perhaps the central observation is that if the DNA of the child does not match that of the husband, then the husband knows that his wife has been unfaithful. This knowledge brings with it various ramifications. Notably, it might be grounds for divorce and/or it might be grounds for resisting an order of child support. Continue reading
There’s a case I’ve been following for a long time that I want to return to here. You can read earlier posts here but in truth, you will be missing probably the most important developments–lost in the time I had no online access.
The case is a hard one–an unmarried genetic father objected when the genetic mother placed the child for adoption. Under conventional South Carolina law (which is the law that applied) his protests would have been in vain as he didn’t comply with the requirements an unmarried man must meet before he can object. (And there is a long discussion to be had about that, of course.) But the man here was Native American and hence, could invoke the Indian Child Welfare Act. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking, while not able to be on-line, about why this area of the law is as it is–a total mess, full of inconsistencies and contradictions. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were tidy and neat, as many areas of the law actually are?
There’s no simple answer to the “why” question, of course. Why would there be a simple answer? But I do have some ideas.
There have always been parents, of course, by which I mean two things: First, that men and women have engaged in sexual activities with resulting birth of genetic offspring and second, that the young creatures require care and someone has provided that care, at least to some of those offspring. Continue reading
This essay will, I think, be in print in tomorrow’s NYT but it’s been on the web for a bit. It’s from Modern Love–a Sunday column that often deals with complexities of modern family life. In the essay Lisa Schlesinger writes about her experience as the wife of a man who provided sperm to a lesbian couple who were friends of theirs. The husband, Ben, was to be a known sperm donor, of course. The essay shows us some of the complexity of that role and the web of relationships that are affected.
There are three different aspects of the story that I find striking. First is the chain of consultation. When Maggie (one of the lesbians) asked Ben (the husband) his response was to ask Lisa, his wife. Lisa and Ben have three children–a daughter genetically related to both of them and two sons who are from a relationship Lisa had before Ben and thus are genetically unrelated to them. The sons are in the 20s, the daughter 14. Continue reading
There’s been a lot of discussion of surrogacy in the comments here recently and I’ve been meaning to pull the topic back into a main post (because I think this makes it more accessible to readers.) And now I have a vehicle–albeit an imperfect one–to do this: A recent opinion by the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The case is called In re Baby, which is among the more curious captions I’ve seen (Does it sound like a pop song?), but it bears some thought.
Luca G and Antonella T (an Italian couple, unmarried at the beginning of this saga) entered into a surrogacy agreement with a woman in Tennessee, Jennifer E, and her husband, Joshua M. Pursuant to the agreement, Jennifer became pregnant via artificial insemination with Luca’s sperm. Since this means that Jennifer was genetically related to the child it makes her a ”traditional” rather than a “gestational” surrogate. In November 2011, before the baby was born, the four people involved here filed a joint petition to establish parentage of the child. The idea here was to have legal parentage all sorted out before the child was born. In response to the petition the court issued an order in December 2011–still before the birth of the child. Continue reading
“FAFSA” is one of those words (if it is a word) that strikes fear into the hearts of those who know what it is. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and, as the name suggests, it is the form families have to fill out to get federal aid for their kids. And the reason it strikes fear is that it is a long and complicated process (though they do say that they keep trying to improve it.)
Now you may be wondering why this has anything to do with my blog. Bear with me.
One of the critical pieces of information FAFSA requires, of course, is the financial position of the student’s parents. It certainly stands to reason that this is the sort of thing you’d want to know in determining whether someone was eligible for federal student aid, right? But you all know that figuring out who counts as a ”parent” means isn’t always easy. Continue reading
For several years (time does fly) I’ve been following an Iowa case challenging the state’s refusal to issue a birth certificate listing the names of both married women when one woman gives birth. As you’ll see if you read through the posts I just linked to, the case is something of a follow-on to the Iowa litigation that resulted in access to marriage for same-sex couples in Iowa.
The Iowa Supreme Court has now issued its decision. It determined that the state must issue the birth certificate listing both women’s names. Of course this brings up the whole birth certificate debate and the reasoning of the court is interesting in that larger context, too. (If you look under the tag you’ll find a lot of posts about birth certificates and what they should or do say and mean.)
For those who don’t want to read through the opinion and/or the earlier string of posts, it’s worth noting a couple of key features here that are really woven into the facts of the case. Continue reading
Once again thanks go to The Adopted Ones blog to letting me know that it was time to go back and look at Utah again. There’s some new Utah legislation that I think merits a close look.
For those of you who may not have been following along closely, Utah has come up repeatedly in this blog because it has laws that dramatically limit the rights of unmarried men to claim legal parentage. As I’ve discussed before, this is the result of a policy choice Utah has made–the state wants to encourage adoption by married couples and giving unmarried men the right to object to adoption runs counter to that goal. Obviously the merits of this policy are debatable–but I’m going to stay on a more technical level for the moment.
As you’ll see if you scroll through the posts, Utah’s approach has generated some controversy. Continue reading