She gave birth to her own child, and then a Michigan judge ruled her as a surrogate


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When the use of assisted reproductive technology conflicts with outdated family law doctrines, many surprising things can happen. I have seen many unexpected situations in this column. This situation actually shocked me.

Reciprocal IVF

Michigan residents LaNesha Matthews and Kyresha LeFever married in 2011. Like many couples, they decided to have children together. They have found a way to become parents, so that they (as female partners of the same sex) can play a special role.They are conceived through “reciprocal IVF” or “same birth” arrangements, and there are many in this procedure first name. LeFever underwent the egg retrieval procedure, fertilized the eggs with the sperm of the fertilized person in a fertility clinic, and then transferred the embryos into Matthews’ womb. The operation was successful and Matthews gave birth to twins.

then,Epithelium, The couple was not allowed to marry by law. Moreover, they know that Michigan law does not allow both mothers to appear on their children’s birth certificates. To correct this, the couple decided to give birth in Ohio. They believed that both mothers could be designated as parents on the birth certificate. It is not yet clear whether it is feasible. In any case, because the twins arrived two months earlier, Ohio’s delivery plan was not successful, and the delivery took place in Michigan. As the mother of birth, Matthews is listed on the baby’s birth certificate, while LeFever is not. However, the children are named LeFever’s last name.

The couple raised their children together for many years, but broke up in 2014. They continued to be parents in different families until Matthews encountered serious medical problems in 2016, which caused LeFever to take over primary education. In 2018, the couple was unable to resolve their custody disagreements on their own, and Lefever filed a lawsuit. This is where things get crazy.

The trial court made a shocking ruling

The judge of the Michigan court of first instance curiously ruled that Matthews (who gave birth to twins) was not actually the child’s parent. Instead, the judge determined that Matthews was only a surrogate based on Michigan’s “Surrogacy Act.” By the way, this law prohibits the enforceability of surrogacy agreements and criminalizes the act of compensatory surrogacy, making Michigan one of the only remaining states in the United States!

The trial judge ordered Matthews to have only third-party status (such as grandparents or stepparents), which would require her to show clear and convincing evidence (very high standards) that this is the best interest for the twins. custody. After a six-day trial, the judge ruled that Matthews had not reached the highest standard, and ordered the sole guardianship to be granted to LeFever, and ordered that Matthews’ name be deleted from the twins’ birth certificates. Wow.

As a lawyer who practices and writes about surrogacy every day, I can assure you that the birth and parenting arrangements of Lefever and Matthews are by no means a form of surrogacy.

Thanks for the kind court of appeal

Thanks for kindness, not only for the Court of Appeal, but also for National Lesbian Rights Center (NCLR) handled Matthews’ case and filed an appeal on her behalf with her local trial lawyer Regina Jemison. In addition, the court president’s profile was submitted by Professors Courtney Joslin and Douglas NeJaime, ACLU, Michigan ACLU, Center for Genetics and Society, and Pro-Selected Responsible Research Alliance Representative Matthews. Everyone agrees that the ruling of the trial court is pure madness, but it is expressed in a more legal way diplomatically.

On April 1, 2021, the Michigan Court of Appeals unanimously passed reverse The decision of the court of first instance. And it’s not even a joke on April Fool’s Day. The appellate court held that the court of first instance made mistakes in many ways. These include the determination of Matthews as a surrogate according to the “Surrogacy Law”. By the way, this requires the surrogate to voluntarily give up his parental status, which is a necessary content of the surrogacy arrangement. The appellate court also ruled that the court of first instance found that the term “natural parents” is limited to people who have a genetic relationship with the child.

NCLR Deputy Director and Family Law Director Attorney Cathy Sakimura Explains: “The Michigan Court of Appeals correctly found that genetics is not the only way to establish a parent-child relationship. There are many ways to establish a family, and all families should be treated equally legally. We are very happy that our client and her ‘S twins are once again recognized as one family.” Well done, NCLR.

The case highlights several points that family lawyers have been trying to make over the years. First, although Michigan has many positive views on this, its laws, especially the surrogacy law and family law, still urgently need to be updated. Another need further proves this need. Recent situation In Michigan, cancer survivors and their spouses were forced to adopt their children.

Secondly, the name on the birth certificate alone is not enough to legally recognize the legal relationship between parents and children.Therefore, the lawyer’s advice Amira Hasenbush,here sheet in order to Connect the rainbow, Requiring all parents of same-sex couples to obtain an order from the court to recognize their parent-child relationship. Ideally, this is done before your predecessor sends you to a custody dispute.

Our country is a hodgepodge of state and local laws, and sometimes things get better. In many cases, the state acts as a laboratory for democracy. In these countries, improvements in public policy can be achieved through trial and error in each country. On the other hand, there are surrogacy laws in Michigan. In places where the laboratory may be run by a mad scientist, and where individual parents risk the unpredictability of surrogacy or worse. Parents must be careful!


Ellen Trachman is Trachman Law Center Ltd., A law firm based in Denver that specializes in assisted reproductive technology law and is a co-host of a podcast I want to have a baby in you.You can contact her in the following ways babies@abovethelaw.com.


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