Articles Tagged with “family law”

blog_rainbowflag1-300x199While surrogacy is not legal in many parts of the world, there are also countries, like Israel, that allow some, but not all citizens, to become parents through surrogacy.  Under current Israeli law, only heterosexual partners can enter surrogacy agreements, with an amendment in the works that would allow single woman to legally use surrogacy. This means that in Israel, same-sex couples and single men cannot become parents using a surrogate.

In 2015, two activist groups filed a petition to get rid of the ban on surrogacy for same-sex couples. The hearing was scheduled for July 20, 2017, but has been pushed back to September 19, 2017. The Israeli Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry has said they “will take the position that the prohibition on same-sex surrogacy is not about discrimination, and it is more complicated.” They are suggesting a complete redo of the current foster care system, and argue that “only after the reform should lawmakers be asked to change the laws in favor of additional groups.” Udi Ledergor, Chairman of the Associates of Israeli Gay Fathers, said “We will continue to fight until we have removed the darkness and discrimination.” Check back on our blog in the coming months for more information on the Ministry’s decision, as it becomes available.

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.

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.

Attorneys Michele Jackson, Clarissa Finnell, Christine Douglas, Katherine Schwartz, and paralegal Amy Mitchell recently attended the American Bar Association Family Law Spring CLE Conference in Savannah, Georgia from May 3rd to May 6th.  Our Adoption and Reproductive Law Group sponsored the welcome reception on the first day of the conference. We also had a sponsor table throughout the conference where attendees could pick up gift bags containing several goodies and information about our practice.

Michele, Katherine, and Amy attended the assisted reproductive technology (“ART”) CLE sessions, and Clarissa and Christine attended the family law CLE sessions. Aside from learning a lot, we had a great time connecting with our ART and family law colleagues who practice throughout the country. We also enjoyed a variety of activities during our time in Savannah, including a riverboat cruise, a community service project on Tybee Island, and of course, a ghost tour or two!

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(Left to Right) Michele Jackson, Christine Douglas, Amy Mitchell, Katherine Schwartz, and Clarissa Finnell at the Welcome Reception hosted by Harden Jackson’s Adoption and Reproductive Law Group.

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.

capitol-820611_1280-150x150Indiana Representative Robin Shackleford recently introduced House Bill 1059, which would require insurance companies to offer coverage for fertility treatments. This bill was inspired by a local woman‘s public fight to shine light on the fact that infertility affects one in eight women. In virto fertilization is used to help families who struggle with infertility, but with such a high price not all families can afford the service.  Shackleford commented, “I’ve heard a lot of stories where women have literally drained out their 401K. We need to see how we can level the playing field and let it be affordable for everyone.”

One local family, Cher Kimbrough and her partner Samuel traveled out of state to get more affordable fertility treatment. “I found the place in New York and it was $4,000. Right away I thought it was a catch because they are charging $4,000 for the same thing they’re charging 20 grand for in Indy,” Kimbrough commented Even though this family had a happy ending, there are many families that can’t afford this treatment. According to Shackleford, the next step is getting both constituents and insurers together to come to a consensus before the bill is heard by the house insurance committee. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on the developments of this bill.

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.

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.

Spain
Last month, the Supreme Court of Spain issued a landmark ruling that recognizes the right to paid maternity leave for parents of children born through surrogacy. Although gestational surrogacy is illegal in Spain, the Court held that the need to take care of children outweighs any legal barriers set forth by Spain’s surrogacy ban. The decision also extends various rights to mothers of children born through surrogacy, such as a reduced workday for nursing mothers and the right to take one year of unpaid leave after the maternity leave. Spaniards who seek to build their family through surrogacy must go abroad, and two such scenarios, one involving a surrogacy arrangement in the United States and the other in India, set this case in motion.  In October, Spain’s congress also voted to equalize paternity and maternity leave, awarding fathers the same sixteen weeks of paid maternity leave that mothers receive.

The decision comes at a time when the issue of maternity benefits is in the spotlight in the United States.  A New Jersey woman is suing her former employer, Verizon Network Solutions, for denying her paid maternity leave when she had children through surrogacy in 2013. Various arguments exist for both sides of the issue. For example, some posit that since mothers of children born to a gestational surrogate did not give birth, they do not need time to recover physically. This argument is often used to justify the denial of extended paternity leave for fathers. On the other hand, proponents of maternity benefits for mothers of children born through surrogacy contend that a new mom needs time to bond with the baby, especially when she did not carry the child.

Although the Verizon lawsuit is one of the first of its kind (there was a federal lawsuit to claim benefits for paid leave by a woman who had children through surrogacy in 2011, but the case was ultimately dismissed), this issue is likely to become more prevalent as gestational surrogacy continues to grow as a family-building option. Stay tuned to our blog for more discussions on emerging reproductive law issues.

Mother & Daughter.jpgWhile we often discuss the family turmoil surrounding divorce, custody battles, and child support, sometimes taking a step back and simply focusing on your children is the best move.

On Thursday April 23rd, it is “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day”, a day that strives to empower the youth of America and encourage children to create new pathways to their own success. Perhaps most importantly, this day also serves as an opportunity for the workplace to emphasize the importance of education to children still in school. This day is a great chance for you to show your children that you care about their future.

In preparation for “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” Day, here are some quick tips and fast facts on making the most of your day inspiring your children.

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.

MLJ WEB.jpgCARMEL, IN – April 22, 2014 – Founding Partner and Attorney Michele L. Jackson has been selected to receive the “Young Entrepreneur Award” from the Madame Walker Theatre Center at the 9th Annual Spirit Awards Gala.

“It truly is an honor to receive an award from an organization that celebrates the cultural heritage of diverse ethnicities and symbolizes the spirit of creativity and community pride in Indianapolis,” Jackson said. “It is especially humbling to be honored by an organization founded by such an amazing woman and entrepreneur.”

The Awards Gala will be held at Madame Walker Theatre on April 26, 2014. The evening opens with a cocktail reception and is followed by the awards ceremony where business and civic leaders will be recognized for their contributions to arts and culture.