Paternity and maternity have been a topic of recent posts in our California blog, specifically as knowledge about in vitro fertilization has made the process much more available to couples struggling to have a child or those who biologically cannot. Although this is a great benefit to many parents who wanted to have a child, it has created a new area of legal thought when donor sperm or eggs are involved.
Tradition seems to go out the window in many family law cases as individual circumstances and societal norms change. A birth certificate traditionally holds three names: the father, the mother and the child’s names. In a rare case in another jurisdiction, a birth certificate listed four: the mother, the other mother, the sperm donor and the child.
The two women listed on the birth certificate were same-sex partners who had wanted to have a child for a long time. The sperm donor was a gay friend of theirs. At first, he just wanted to donate, but later changed his mind about walking away from the child that was half biologically his.
At first, the women opposed this desire. They felt that they were the parents, and that was the verbal agreement between the three. The two women took it to court in Florida — where sperm donors do not have a legal claim to the child. In a surprise ruling, the court chose to list the biological father on the birth certificate, granting him limited rights to the child.
The women eventually agreed with the decision to allow the donor to have certain visitation rights with the child. Under the new agreement, the women would have sole parental rights, but the father would be allowed to visit on special occasions. The donor father would not be required to pay child support either. Although he is listed on the birth certificate, the women made it clear that the father would be allowed to visit, “but not as a parent.” Instead, the child would understand that he was the generous friend who helped bring the child into their lives that they wanted “so badly.”
Source: News & Insight, “Florida judge approves birth certificate listing three parents,” Kevin Gray, Feb. 7, 2013