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Laura Dale & Associates, P.C.

Child custody and in vitro fertilization

A case is scheduled to be heard in Texas concerning mothers delivering children through the process of in vitro fertilization. It appears to be the first case of its kind in that it will involve a child custody dispute between the woman that delivered a pair of twins through this process, and the man that was the donor and thus might be considered the father of the child.

Generally such cases are governed by a surrogate contract that has been signed by both parties. However, in this circumstance no formal written agreement between the parties was ever created.

The donor in this case in challenging that the woman that delivered the child could even legally be considered a mother. Though maternity is something seldom questioned, the circumstances here are somewhat unique.

Generally, a mother will have the same DNA as the child, or an agreement or court order acknowledges that the woman should be considered the mother. Here, the woman delivering the twins does not share the child's DNA, and there was no legal document mandating that she was the mother.

The donor as it turns out is an unmarried gay man. In Texas, surrogacy can only be considered part of a valid agreement if the individual seeking custody also turns out to be a married individual. The woman that delivered the twins is also unmarried.

This case demonstrates how family law will continually become increasingly complex in future years. These cases are challenging for family law attorneys because it requires knowledge regarding many different areas. But it will also concern the usual requirements of every family law case involving children in making sure that the children's needs are met.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Court case may define what a 'mother' is," by Brian Rogers, Sep. 20, 2012

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