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
That would be parental responsibilities. So this is, in a way, a part of the same discussion that has been going on in the comments to the last post. But this is also different. The press coverage I just linked to is rather confusing so you might prefer to read the reported opinion.
Chukwudera and Blessing Okoli were married. They were unable to conceive a child in the ordinary course of events and so turned to ART. They used IVF with third-party sperm and third-party eggs. To be clear, this meant that neither of the Okolis would be genetically related to any child that was born.
While they were waiting for third-party eggs to become available, the couple separated. Continue reading
The last couple of posts have (tangentially) raised this question: If a person isn’t a parent (legally) of a child, can that person still be obligated to pay to support that child? Put the other way around, do the obligation of support and the privilege of parental rights go hand in hand, so that if you impose one you must give the other?
I think for many people the initial answer here is “yes.” It seems unfair to many people to impose the obligations without offering the corresponding rights. But I’d like to push everyone to think a bit harder about this.
Actually, first I’d like to digress to a utopian fantasy. Continue reading
I think this recent case is worthy of a brief note. It’s slightly unusual, though not (to my mind) a surprising outcome.
Jessica Jantzen was born on October 20, 1988. At the time, her mother, Diana K. Williams was married to Kenneth Jantzen. Jantzen was listed on the birth certificate as Jessica’s father.
Diana Williams and Kenneth Jantzen separated a year later. When they divorced, they entered into an agreement that Kenneth Jantzen was not Jessica’s father. There was no mention of any child support obligation on the part of Kenneth Jantzen, I assume because of the agreement that he was not Jessica’s father.
Now flash forward to a few weeks after Jessica turned 18. Continue reading
There’s a stunning essay on the NYT blog Motherlode today. Oh, the messiness of families and family law.
Sara Brown is married. She and her husband have two children, a 2-year-old and a nine-month old. But her husband also has a ten-year old son, a son born to a woman with whom he had what sounds like a fairly insubstantial relationship. That relationship ended before the pregnancy did. (While it may not have been a one-night-stand, I’m not clear how much more than that it was.)
The ten-year old lives on the other coast with his mother and step-father (who he calls “Dad”) and Sara Brown’s husband’s role in his life is limited. He writes child-support checks and sees the child from time to time. But the circumstances do not suggest these visits are occasions of unalloyed joy for any of the participants. The boy’s status as son to her husband is a family secret. He is not generally introduced as the father’s son. And, for now at least, he is not a brother to his father’s younger children. Continue reading
So as the titled suggests, this takes up from the last post. I’ll assume you’ve read that. I want to spend a bit more time (and a few more electrons) pondering the reasons for the differences between claiming parenthood via holding out and claiming parenthood via the de facto route.
Here’s the key distinction to keep in mind: It seems easier to acquire parental status by holding out than by the de facto parent route. The de facto route is more complicated and seems to require you to meet a higher standard. Not to mention that de facto parentage requires the consent of the pre-existing parents while holding out doesn’t seem to. What that means is that some people might satisfy the holding out standard but not the de facto standard.
One thing worth noting might be the history of these two competing routes to parentage. Holding out is the older of the two. (Please note that I am not a historian and have not recently researched this. This means I could be wrong, though I don’t think I am. I will cheerfully stand corrected if need be.) Continue reading
Posted in family law, gender, parentage
Tagged child support, de facto parent, father, functional parent, gender, holding out, lesbian mother, mother, second-parent
Generally speaking we tie parental status and the obligation to pay child support together–you cannot have one without the other. I’ve suggested there’s no necessary reason for doing this. It’s not really a quid pro quo. There are reasons you could be determined to be liable for support and not deemed to be a parent. The Supreme Court of Illinois recently reached the same conclusion. There are a few other similar cases out there as well. Just worth noting.