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A pending legal case in the Mississippi court system is being watched closely by in-vitro fertilization and gay-rights advocates. At issue is whether a non-biological parent should have recognized parental rights for a child conceived through IVF.
In this case, a same-sex couple was married at the time of conception via IVF using sperm from an anonymous donor. The couple’s marriage ended in divorce, with sole custody awarded to the child’s biological mother. In the divorce ruling, the Mississippi court ruled that the anonymous sperm donor has parental rights, but that the child’s other parent does not – even though she pays child support and has visitation rights. Although the child bears his non-biological mother’s last name, at the time of his birth, Mississippi law did not allow for listing both of his mothers on his birth certificate.
The non-biological mother has asked the state Supreme Court to award her parental rights. The biological mother has argued that her ex-wife should have to persuade the court to formally terminate the anonymous sperm donor’s rights first.
If the court ultimately holds that the non-biological parent does not actually have parental rights, the potential implications are frightening. In a worst-case scenario, if the child’s biological mother died while he was a minor, he could end up in state custody with the non-biological mother having no rights or say about guardianship.
Elsewhere in the country, court rulings on similar issues have been mixed. The U.S. Supreme Court and the Arizona Supreme Court have both held that married same-sex couples should have the same parental rights and benefits as opposite-sex couples, including listing both of the spouses’ names on birth certificates.
Regardless of the outcome of this case, the right attorney can be an invaluable resource in helping parents struggling with infertility protect their legal rights. The Surrogacy and Egg, Sperm and Embryo Donation contracts that we prepare for our clients are comprehensive and thorough. We also help guide parents through the finalization of their parental rights, which can seem daunting and confusing.
Our firm provides comprehensive legal and counseling services for those using assisted reproduction with a third party. Each client is ensured of receiving personalized attention, support and counseling. Contact us today to get started!