Monday, January 29, 2018

NY court upholds lesbian couple's parental rights - Nixes paternity challenge

On Thursday a New York appellate court ruled that a sperm donor to a lesbian couple was not entitled to a paternity test.  Justice Robert Mulvey wrote, for a unanimous panel:
Testing in these circumstances exposes children born into same-gender marriages to instability for no justifiable reason other than to provide a father-figure for children who already have two parents. This would be indefensible, and not warranted by the facts adduced at the hearing. Further, it would undermine the ‘compelling public policy of protecting children conceived via AID [artificial insemination by donor].
The sperm donor signed a waiver of paternity at the time of the donation. Then, when the child was seven months old, he changed his mind. A family court judge in Western New York granted the donor's petition.

Courts generally presume the legitimacy of parenthood of married couples, giving them protection from paternity suits. However, the presumption can be challenged. Gay couples are particularly vulnerable because of the fact that one party is not biologically related to the child.

Beth Littrell, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal represented the couple. The bottom line is that the family court did not recognize, in spite of Obergefell v. Hodges, the legitimacy of the couple's marriage and parenthood. The appellate ruling is one that is in favor of equality.

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