Florida residents who have been through child custody disputes know how complex and emotional custody issues can be. It will come as no surprise that this in no different in other parts of the country, such as the unusual child custody issue that recently arose in another state when a woman gave birth to twins conceived with an egg from an anonymous donor and her gay friend’s sperm.
The woman claims that she and the man were dating for many years and agreed that the children would be raised by the two of them. Although they had briefly dated in the past, they decided to remain just as friends. Her friend, who enjoys paternity in this case, claims that she was merely a surrogate and plans to raise the children with his domestic partner. Currently, the children are in the custody of the biological father and his partner and the mother has limited visitation, pending the outcome of the case.
A surrogacy contract typically involves a married couple who arranges for a fertile woman to carry the embryo. This is usually accomplished as the result of a donor egg, or the woman’s ovum and the man’s sperm. Following delivery, the surrogate relinquishes all legal rights to the child. In either case, a pre-birth court order of paternity can be obtained.
Florida regulates “traditional” and “gestational” surrogacy separately, and any couple planning to enter into a surrogacy arrangement in Florida should review these regulations closely in advance.
Surrogacy and traditional child custody issues share common characteristics. In general, both biological parents enjoy parental rights. Visitation and custody issues are governed by the best interests of the child and it is typically presumed that the involvement of both parents is best for the child. Physical and legal custody, as well as joint custody, are issues the court, or the parents, sometimes with the help of a mediator, will consider. Today, the primary caretaker may be identified using factors such as grooming, meal planning, teaching and health care provisions, among a host of other factors, to help determine what placement is in the best interest of the child.
Sometimes it may seem there is nothing more emotional than a child custody issue. The best interests of the child can be determined to help resolve these issues in the most positive way possible.
Source: My Fox Houston, “Gay couple tells woman: You’re not the mom!” Isiah Carey, Sept. 19, 2012