Articles Tagged with “child custody”

T5662029278_ea66e0d9bf_qhe Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments last week after the State of Indiana appealed a federal judge’s ruling that permitted same-sex couples to list both names on their child’s birth certificate. In June 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued a decision allowing the placement of both females in a same-sex marriage on their child’s birth certificate. Prior to this ruling, the State of Indiana permitted only the listing of a mother and a father on a birth certificate. As a result, in the case of female married same-sex couples, only the woman who carried the child could be listed as the child’s parent on the birth certificate. The child was considered born out of wedlock, and the spouse needed to adopt the child to become a legal parent.  The Court held that Indiana’s refusal to recognize two mothers on a birth certificate violated the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, because the State did not extend equal rights to married same-sex couples. After the decision was issued, the State of Indiana began placing both married same-sex parents’ names on their children’s birth certificates, which was a very progressive step that continues to provide a great benefit to our married same-sex clients.  Click here to read our blog post about the 2016 district court ruling for more information.

During the oral arguments, Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher argued that Indiana law only provides parental rights through biology or adoption, and contended that the district court’s decision created a third category that “creates inequality and undermines the rights of the biological fathers.”  Meanwhile, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, Karen Celestino-Horseman, responded that Indiana law does not treat married same-sex couples and married heterosexual couples equally. For example, the law treats female spouses of women who underwent artificial insemination differently than male spouses of women in the same scenario, as the male spouse would be the presumed legal father of the child under Indiana law.  The Seventh Circuit frequently alluded to biology during the oral arguments, with Judge Diane S. Skyes stating, “You can’t overcome biology and if the state defines parenthood by biology, no argument under Equal Protection Clause of the substantive due process clause can overcome that.”  Celestino-Horseman countered that parenthood is no longer defined by biology.

The Seventh Circuit is taking the case under advisement and will make a ruling at a later date. We are hopeful that the Seventh Circuit makes a decision that accords equal rights to married-same sex couples, and continues to allow both parents to be listed on their children’s birth certificates in the State of Indiana.  Stay tuned to our blog for more updates on this case.

state-clip-art-new-york-clipart-480x480_01c9de-300x300New York Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin have proposed a new bill, The Child Parent Security Act (“CSPA”), that would remove the ban on compensated surrogacy and provide a clear mechanism for intended parents legal rights to obtain legal rights to their child born through gestational surrogacy. When the requirements in the law are met, Intended parents can receive an “Order of Parentage” from a court which becomes effective immediately after birth of the child. Additionally, the bill would provide for the enforcement of contractual agreements between the gestational surrogate and the intended parents. The CSPA would significantly change surrogacy law in New York, which is one of only five states that where compensated surrogacy is illegal. Click here for more information about the bill.

Surrogacy is one of the only family-building options for more than 440,000 infertile New Yorkers, same-sex couples, and single individuals who wish to have children. This bill would remove barriers for New Yorkers who are forced to pursue surrogacy out-of-state, and permit them to achieve their dream of building a family. With IVF and gestational surrogacy becoming so widespread, it has come time for many states to update and clarify laws to keep up with technological advances in assisted reproduction. The bill is currently being reviewed by the Committee of Judiciary, but stay tuned to our blog for more updates on this bill and other efforts to update surrogacy laws throughout the country.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

icelander-flag-large-300x216In just a few short weeks, the Supreme Court of Iceland will rule on its first surrogacy case involving two women who wish to be recognized as the legal parents of their child born via gestational surrogacy. A U.S. surrogate carried the same-sex couple’s child, which was created using donor egg and sperm. The baby was born in 2013 and received a US passport and citizenship. The intended mothers established their legal parentage in the U.S., but things became complicated when the mothers tried to return to Iceland with the child. Surrogacy is illegal in Iceland, and when the mothers tried to register their child as an Icelandic citizen and themselves as the child’s legal parents, the National Registry of Iceland rejected the registration attempt. Although the child eventually received Icelandic citizenship and an identity number, the mothers sued the National Registry and the Icelandic State because they were only granted a fostering agreement rather than legal parentage.

This decision will have a great impact in Iceland because it will affect many couples and individuals who wish to have children through gestational surrogacy. This case also shows that in many countries, the laws are a bit lagging on how to address surrogacy. Make sure to stay tuned for a follow up blog post about the Supreme Court of Iceland’s decision.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

ME_23_00_sm-150x150Earlier this year, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld the Rockland District Court’s decision that found a de facto parentage relationship between Jessica Lisio’s two biological children and her transgender domestic partner, Tammy Thorndike. Lisio and Thorndike, who identifies as male, began a relationship and decided to have a child together. In 2009, Lisio and Thorndike registered as domestic partners and later Lisio gave birth to their daughter. Their relationship began to fall apart a few months later, but Thorndike and Lisio maintained their existing parental roles. Thorndike finally moved out and two years later, filed a complaint for a determination of paternity and parental rights and responsibilities, which Lisio opposed, arguing that Thorndike had no parental rights. The Court found that “Thorndike undertook a permanent and responsible parental role in the children’s lives”, and that the children would be negatively affected if Thorndike was removed from their lives.

This case is a prime example of how the laws and court system are delayed and could have been avoided had the two parties taken proactive steps to establish their parental rights and responsibilities. In this case, a second-parent adoption lets the non-biological parent adopt a child without the biological parents losing their rights. Also, if the relationship ends, it still allows the adoptive parent to have custody and visitation rights. It’s important to keep in mind that Indiana has become one of a handful of states that now puts both biological and non-biological married same-sex parents on the birth certificate. Therefore, a second-parent adoption is not always necessary in this scenario. Meet with an experienced adoption and reproductive law attorney to learn more about when a second-parent adoption may be required.

In the many states that don’t recognize second-parent adoption, there is the option of a co-parenting agreement which lays out the intentions of the parents regarding the care of the children. This will help protect the intent of the non-biological parent toward the care of the child in the event that the relationship ends. This decision also strengthens the case for establishment of parentage in non-biological parents that use donor egg, which can sometimes arise in a gestational surrogacy. Many states don’t have clear laws on whether parentage can be established using donor egg, so taking intent into consideration fortifies the argument for establishment of legal parentage in non-biological parents.

In late 2016, thekansas-flag-medium-150x150 Shawnee County District court in Kansas issued a significant ruling in November 2016 concerning sperm donors’ responsibility for child support. William Marotta of Topeka, Kansas answered an ad on Craigslist to donate sperm to a same-sex couple, who used the sperm to have a child. The couple later separated and then reached out to the state Department for Children and Families for help when one of the mothers lost her job. The department then filed a suit claiming that Marotta wasn’t paying child support and sought to hold him liable for $6,100 in child support expenses since the child’s birth in December 2009.

Shawnee County District Judge Mary Mattivi ruled that Marotta does not have to provide child support. The department argued that Marotta needed to pay the child support because the two women did not use a physician and Kansas law states that one must be inseminated by a doctor.  Marotta’s attorneys, Tim Schlesinger and Charles Baylor, further argued that the laws are antiquated and have not been updated. Baylor contended, “If the presumptive parent, in this case the non-biological mother, had been a man, they never would have gone after the sperm donor.” Marotta’s attorneys countered that he never had the intentions of being the child’s father nor has he tried to make contact with the couple. The state Department for Children and Families is thinking of appealing the court’s decision.

A key element of Mattivi’s holding is the reasoning that the woman who didn’t give birth to the child is considered the child’s second parent, and the sperm donor is therefore not financially responsible. This ruling is especially meaningful for married same-sex couples, as courts continue to follow the growing trend of extending legal parentage to the non-biological parent. This case also provides guidance on issues surrounding sperm and egg donation, as laws in this area are often lacking or have not yet caught up with the rapid growth of reproductive technology. Stay tuned to the blog for updates on this decision as well as other similar decisions, as the position that non-biological parents in married same-sex couples are considered the child’s legal parents gains traction in courts throughout the United States.

5662029278_ea66e0d9bf_qIn 2015, eight female same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Indiana violated their constitutional rights regarding the information on their children’s birth certificates. Until recently, Indiana did not include the non-birth mother or father’s name on the birth certificates of children born into same-sex marriages, and classified these births as “out of wedlock”.  In the 2016 decision, Judge Tanya Walter Pratt of the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana determined that Indiana law regulating birth certificate documentation violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The judge also ruled that the state cannot classify children born to a birth mother who is married to a same-sex spouse as born out of wedlock.

Weeks after the judgment, the state of Indiana sought to amend the order, raising questions of jurisdiction and asking whether the judgment applies to all wives of all birth mothers, or only to wives of birth mothers who conceived through artificial insemination. The judge refused to amend the decision and said, “The order means what it says and says what it means and the law intends to give wives of birth mothers comparable rights to husbands of birth mothers.” With the Supreme Court declaring same-sex marriage legal in the U.S. just over a year ago, this is another great leap in giving same-sex couples equal rights in parenting. Indiana must now name both same sex-parents on their child’s birth certificate if the parents are married, not just the birth mother.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients in all areas of family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy, and other areas of reproductive law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for CMD close.jpgDuring the holiday season our office receives tons of questions from our clients about how to handle holiday parenting time. Attorney Christine Douglas helps individuals resolve a variety of legal issues that arise in families. With over 18 years experience guiding her clients through these types family law matters, Ms. Douglas offers advice on how to avoid holiday parenting time problems.

  1. Use common sense. Be flexible and focus on your child. If you are focusing on “your rights” or the other parent, you are not thinking about your child. The holidays should not be a battleground—ever! Be the better parent and avoid all confrontation. If the other parent is unwilling to be flexible with the holidays, then you should be flexible. You are not being taken advantage of–you are thinking about your child. You are helping create wonderful memories for your child and not holiday memories of on-going fighting and bitterness.
  2. Keep a diary of dates and times of parenting time and especially any modifications. Make sure all conversations about parenting time is limited to email so you have a record of who requested what, when parenting time was requested and how it was decided. If you ever have to go to court in regard to parenting time, you can show the Judge your efforts to be cooperative, reasonable and flexible.

Thumbnail image for suitcases.jpgYou’ve decided to separate. Your spouse is moving out of the home. But now, he or she claims that they are taking the kids with them when they leave. Are they permitted to take the children with them when they leave?

Maybe. Unless the courts have already determined a custody agreement, one parent is not required permission to leave with the children. If you plan to pursue custody of the children, it is advised not to leave the house. Even if you take the children with you, it may impact custody decisions because the courts can decide to keep the children at the house to reduce the disruption in their lives.

The first thing you should do is contact an experienced family law attorney. Here is more information on how to find an attorney for you and questions you should ask your attorney. Your attorney should file for a temporary custody order. Temporary custody may be decided as soon as the parents are separated.

gavel.jpgHow far can the judicial system go when it comes to decisions about your children? Can a judge rename your child without your input? A judge in Tennessee did just that. The judge has ordered parents who named their son Messiah to change it. The case first came to the court because the mother and father, who were not married, could not agree on whose last name the child should take.

The judge ordered that the child take the last name of both parents, but made another surprising decision by deciding Thursday that the baby, Messiah DeShawn Martin, should be renamed “Martin DeShawn McCullough.”

“The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” Ballew said, according to WBIR-TV.

The new book released this week from New York Times bestselling author, M. Gary Neuman discusses the long-lasting negative impact divorce has on children caught in the middle of the ‘irreconcilable differences. The book is titled, The Long Way Home: The Powerful 4-Step Plan for Adult Children of Divorce.

1205419_little_fisher.jpgAccording to the book description, millions of adults were children of divorce–and while a few have found closure and healing, many continue to struggle with the trauma of their parents’ divorce, commonly even 20, 30, or 40 years after it happened. If you are experiencing some of the common reactions to divorce, including issues of trust, ongoing sadness, and the feeling that you can’t shake your past, then you are likely still suffering from the pain of your parents’ divorce. This book is designed to help you rebuild your past, regardless of how long you have felt unable to do so. Licensed family counselor Gary Neuman has worked successfully with many adult survivors of parental divorce. In this book, he presents a new, proven program to help you see and understand your past in order to let go of the pain of your parents’ divorce and transform both your present and your future.

Neuman recently conducted a study of 379 children of divorce. The startling results are below: