ILNews

COA allows woman to establish maternity

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of an agreed petition to establish paternity and maternity of a child who was born of a surrogate, finding equitable relief should allow the biological mother to establish she is in fact the baby's biological mother.

The embryo of husband and wife T.G. and V.G. was implanted into V.G's sister, D.R., who gave birth to baby R. T.G. executed a paternity affidavit, but the Porter Circuit Court denied establishing maternity because Indiana law doesn't permit a non-birth mother to establish maternity and the law holds the birth mother is the legal mother.

It's presumed in Indiana that the woman who gives birth to a child is the baby's biological mother, but reproductive technologies have made it possible for a woman to give birth to a baby that is not biologically hers. There's no statute specifically providing procedures for establishing maternity.

The state argued in In the matter of the paternity and maternity of infant R., No. 64A03-0908-JV-367, equitable relief may be afforded under the circumstances of the case; T.G., V.G., and D.R. claimed Indiana's paternity statutes could be construed so as to apply equally to their situation.

"While we conclude that the public policy for correctly identifying biological parents is clearly evinced in our paternity statutes, it does not follow that we must embark on a wholesale adoption and application of these statutes in order to provide relief under the narrow set of circumstances we are presented with today," wrote Judge L. Mark Bailey. "Rather, it is for the Legislature to evaluate and deliberate comprehensive proposals for changes to these statutes."

The appellate court decided, however, that these circumstances suggest that equity should provide an avenue for relief. If equity ignores technological realities the law has yet to recognize, a baby born under these circumstances would be denied the opportunity other children have to be linked to those with whom he shares DNA. A surrogate would be denied a remedy available to putative, but not biological fathers, to remove an incorrect designation on a birth certificate and avoidance of legal responsibilities for someone else's child, the judge continued.

"We are aware of no reason why the public interest in correctly identifying a child's biological mother should be less compelling than correctly identifying a child's biological father," he wrote.

The presumptive relationship that D.R. is the biological mother will stand unless V.G. establishes she is in fact the biological mother, which she must do by clear and convincing evidence. This would involve more than just an affidavit between the parties.

The Court of Appeals remanded with instructions for the trial court to conduct an evidentiary hearing, and if V.G. can prove she is the biological mother, grant all other relief just and proper under the circumstances.

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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