The question, ‘Are you my mother?’ not always easily answered

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, December 27, 2012.

The question is simple; the answer may be much more complicated. The advances of science and the convolution of some child custody legalities can cloud the answer(s) to this seemingly straightforward question. Potential parents in Chicago should be aware of the biological and legal issues that may affect their future children.

For example, the scientific breakthroughs in reproductive technology allows a baby to have up to three “mothers.” One, the genetic mother, another, may be the birth mother and the third might be the “intended parent,” be it a woman or even a man. If this possibility appears to inject confusing complexity into a traditionally clear issue, you are correct.

State laws on surrogacy, adoption, divorce and inheritance vary widely, sometimes court-by-court, creating growing interpretation uncertainty of decisions. Should a couple fall into the “nontraditional” category, such as same-sex marriages, the disparity in state laws further complicate the issue.

For example, New York permits same-sex marriages, but prohibits surrogate mothers. Conversely, the state of Utah permits surrogacy, but does not allow gay marriages. This lack of consistency causes confusion and concern for the family law community and parents–with good reason.

The U.S. Supreme Court should issue not one, but two landmark decisions by the middle of 2013 that may redefine legal marriage and affect numerous legal rights of parents. The court will decide whether same-sex married couples can receive the same federal benefits as opposite-sex couples. The justices will also decide if a state can legally ban gay marriages.

The adoption community is closely monitoring these cases, along with potential and current parents. Family law practitioners in Chicago and around the country are anxiously awaiting clarification of these contemporary issues.

Do you have a position on these issues? Should state laws become unified to help parents and family law attorneys better understand the ramifications of new reproductive scientific advances?

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “‘Are you my mother?’ Sometimes, there’s no easy answer,” Cathy Lynn Grossman, Dec. 14, 2012