When it comes to determining parentage, paternity has been the one that is debated over and over again. It is the one that is legally required to have determined before child custody and support orders can be made. Why? Because determining maternity is a lot easier under biology; it doesn’t take a genius to determine that the baby born of the woman during labor is the mother. Or is this harder than we think?
It doesn’t take a genius to witness the birth of a child and make that connection, but those same geniuses have developed technology that seems to confuse the relationship between biology, motherhood and the law. Artificial technology has been developed that blurs the legal definition of maternity.
In one single artificial insemination occurrence, there could possibly be three different mothers. The first is the traditionally assumed mother: the one that carries the child to term in their womb and then physically gives birth to it. While biology is usually described in this first type of motherhood, it no longer accurately describes the situation.
Biology best describes the second possible definition of “mother.” That is the one who is genetically related to child, in artificial insemination situations, that is the woman who donates her egg. Last, there is the mother that has less to do with birth and biology but instead the intent of the parents. This is the woman that agrees to raise the child.
Even these three different definitions are often blurred. So how does the law treat the definition of “maternity” in order to resolve custody and support disputes? That cannot be answered in a single clear sentence, but depends on the circumstances of a case, which is why it is so vitally important to have an experienced family law attorney representing your interests in a dispute.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “‘Are you my mother?’ Sometimes, there’s no easy answer,” Cathy Lynn Grossman, Dec. 14, 2012