Friday, December 6, 2013

Woman Who Donated Egg to Partner and Got Parenting Rights with Child

By:  Carole L. Chiamp

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in November that a woman who donated an egg to her lesbian partner has parental rights to the child.

The case involves two women who had a child together.  One donated an egg that was fertilized and implanted in the other.  The baby was born in 2004.

The parties had a falling out and the one who bore the child left Florida and went to Australia because she wanted to raise the child by herself.  The woman with custody argued a number of laws to stop the parenting by her former partner, but the Florida Supreme Court said that it was clear from the acts of the parties that they intended to raise the child together and the laws cited by her did not apply.

The factors which weighed heavily in the court’s decision were: statements to the reproduction physician that they planned to raise the child together, the use of a hyphenated name for the child using both of their names, a joint birth announcement, pre-natal parental counseling and the raising of the child together.

The court also said that anonymous sperm donors need not worry as this decision does not apply to that situation.

The court concluded that “it would indeed be anomalous if an unwed biological father had more rights to parenting time after a one night stand than an unwed biological mother who, with a committed partner and as part of a loving relationship, planned for the birth of a child and remains committed to supporting and raising her own daughter.”

There is hope yet for Michigan if decisions such as this continue across the land.  Michigan does not allow for second party adoptions and the second party has no legal rights concerning a child when gay/lesbian couples break up, even if that person spent years raising the child.  The adoptive parent may refuse all future contact with the child to the other.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

State Courts Must Now Provide Interpreters

By:  Carole L. Chiamp
The Michigan Supreme Court created a new court rule which requires all courts in the state to provide foreign language interpreters when needed for those who cannot comprehend English.

The Michigan Supreme Court was forced to face the issue after various cases came to light in which justice was denied due to lack of an interpreter.  In some cases abusive spouses were interpreting for an abused spouse.

Under the new rule, non-English speakers who need them must pay for them if they make more than 25% of the federal poverty level which would be $29,437 for a family of four.  The Justice Department is objecting to the portion of the rule which deals with the financial aspect.  Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said she was concerned that making people close to poverty to pay for an interpreter may have “a chilling effect on those who would not otherwise access the courts if they’re on the hook for an interpreter...”  The Justice Department will continue its investigation to be sure the new rule does not discriminate on the basis of national origin or other protected classes.