Tag Archives: Legal Maternity

Raising Arizona Babies

Arizona Supreme Court in McLaughlin v. Jones was asked an increasingly familiar question: Does the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which held that it was unconstitutional for states to withhold the right to marry from same-sex couples, mean that male and female spouses must be presumed the legal parents of children born during the marriage? This court, unlike some others, answered a simple question with a simple answer: Yes. Let me explain the straightforward way in which the court reached that result.

Kimberly and Suzan legally married in California in 2008 and decided to have a family. Suzan unsuccessfully attempted to become pregnant with donor sperm, Kimberly successfully conceived and gave birth to a son in 2011.  The two women entered into a joint parenting agreement in which Kimberly agreed that she intended her wife to be an equal parent, sharing all rights and responsibilities for their son. After the child’s birth, Kimberly returned to work as a physician, while Suzan stayed home as the primary caregiver.  But when the two women broke up, Kimberly moved out of the joint home, with the child in tow.

 

Split the Baby?

King Solomon of Israel was called upon, in 1 Kings 3:16-28 of the Hebrew Bible, to determine which of two women was the mother of an infant boy.  One woman’s newborn had died and the other woman’s newborn had lived, but both lay claim to the surviving infant.  In his great wisdom, King Solomon raised a sword and offered to split the baby in two, knowing that the child’s true mother would rather give up her child than let him be harmed.  The first woman agreed with the plan, but the second urged the king to “give her the living child, and in no wise slay it.”  Solomon had his answer.

Though courts do not raise swords or threaten to split babies in two, they are frequently called upon to determine questions of parentage, or who are a child’s legal parents.  A legal parent must support the child, but also has the constitutional right to determine almost every aspect of the child’s life. An adult who does not qualify as a legal parent can avoid financial obligations, but also can be shut out completely from the child’s life.  Legal parentage also determines many economic rights. Parentage law can thus make or break a family and deeply affect the life of a child.

Resources

From Verdict

When Friends Preside Over Weddings: Tennessee Fights the Online Ministers A small but interesting family law issue keeps popping up: Can ministers who are ordained online legally preside over marriages? Tennessee just passed...
Small Steps Forward: New York Legislature Increases Protections for Sexual Harassment Victims In October 2017, Harvey Weinstein was exposed by the New York Times as a sexual predator.  Before Harvey Weinstein, there had been, among others, Roge...
Junk Science, Junk Law: Eugenics and the Struggle Over Abortion Rights Last month, in an unsigned, per curiam opinion, Box v. Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court considered whether two provisions of a new anti-abortion ...
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Joanna Grossman
09/19/2019
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From the Blog

Raising Arizona Babies Arizona Supreme Court in McLaughlin v. Jones was asked an increasingly familiar question: Does the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges ...
Why Lesbian Co-Parents Still Live in Limbo Although the parenting rights of people in same-sex couples have generally been on the rise—particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2015 rulin...
So Many Unanswered Questions about ART Assisted reproductive technology (ART) surrounds us. Courts are certainly not strangers to the parentage questions that can arise out from situations ...
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Nine to Five: How Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Continue to Define the American Workplace

by Joanna L. Grossman

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Inside the Castle: Law and the Family in 20th Century America

by Joanna L. Grossman and Lawrence M. Friedman

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Gender & Law: Theory, Doctrine, Commentary, 7th Edition

by Katherine T. Bartlett, Deborah L. Rhode, and Joanna L. Grossman

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Family Law in New York

Edited by Barbara Stark and Joanna L. Grossman

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Gender Equality Dimensions of Women's Equal Citizenship

Edited by Linda C. McClain and Joanna L. Grossman

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