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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Custody case demonstrates need for assisted reproduction laws

In recent years, more Atlanta residents are turning to methods of assisted reproductive technology to conceive and have their children. These include in vitro fertilization, egg and sperm donation, surrogacy and the like. However, in Georgia and most other states, the field of assisted reproduction technology continues to go largely unregulated, with no appropriate laws to help families and family court judges resolve disagreements about child custody, child support, parenting time and visitation.

This unfortunate reality is never more obvious than in a case like that currently being argued in a Texas family court. In the child custody case, a woman who gave birth to twins earlier this year is fighting for custody rights and visitation of the boy and girl, despite the fact that she is not genetically related to them. The children’s father is denying her custody, stating that she is not the biological parent of the twins and that she therefore has no rights to them.

According to court documents, the woman claims that she and the father made the mutual decision to have a child together even though they were not romantically involved and had no plans to become so. The children were conceived using donor eggs, and after finding out that she was pregnant with twins, the woman says that she made plans to raise them as her own, sharing custody of them with the father.

The man denies those claims, stating that he never intended to allow the woman to have significant contact with the children after they were born. Because they are not biologically hers, he argues, she has no custody rights to them.

What do you think? Should the woman be given custody?

Source: KTRK, “Man, woman face off for parental rights of twins,” Miya Shay, Sept. 24, 2012