Thursday, August 18, 2011

The New Question: Who is your Mom?

Artificial insemination, a technologically-advanced method that couples use to conceive, complicates the issue of identifying the parents because the process almost always involves more than one man and / or more than one woman. As medicine and technology constantly evolve, the law is often left struggling to keep up, especially in terms of parental rights. One way New Jersey has chosen to regulate parental rights of those that donate sperm, or are otherwise involved in the conception process, is the codification of the Artificial Insemination Statute. N.J.S.A. 9:17 - 44.

In E.E. v. O.M.G.R, a trial court case in New Jersey, the court held that an individual may not terminate their parental rights through a contract. E.E. v. O.M.G.R., 20 A.3d 1171 (2011). In E.E., the plaintiff was a single woman who wanted to become pregnant but did not want to go through the expense of purchasing sperm and going to a physician for the procedure. Instead, plaintiff was able to conceive through the use of a friend’s sperm, which was administered by plaintiff with a common kitchen turkey baster. After conception, both parties entered into a written agreement stating that the sperm donor chose to surrender and / or terminate all future rights and responsibilities to the child. Furthermore, the biological mother agreed to assume all financial responsibility. Once the child was born, the parties signed a Consent Order that vacated all of the parental rights and responsibilities of the sperm donor father. This Consent Order was then submitted to the trial court. 

In E.E., the court held that each child has the right to security from two parents. Furthermore, although there are ways in which a parent may terminate his or her parental rights of a child, parental rights cannot be terminated by a simple contract. Specifically, parental rights may only be terminated in cases where: 

another party is willing to adopt the child,
one parent is declared unfit or
if the child is removed from the parent for cause.

Although the court recognizes that parental rights are established by a genetic relationship, the court also acknowledges that this is not always a controlling factor to parental rights. 

Because New Jersey has an Artificial Insemination Statute, the court must adhere to the plain language within the Statute. Under the Artificial Insemination Statute, unless the donor and the recipient have entered into a written contract, the donor will have no rights or duties stemming from the conception of the child under the supervision of a licensed physician. However, because, in this particular case, there was no licensed physician who facilitated the insemination, the statute could not be applied.

Although the Artificial Insemination Statute does not cover the actions taken by this particular biological mother, the court still held in the biological mother’s favor. Specifically, the court awarded the biological mother sole custody of the child and denied the sperm donor any parenting time. 

If you or someone you know has questions about parental rights, you should contact a lawyer who can appropriately serve your needs. 

Written by law clerk Liz Smith. Edited by Elizabeth A. Bokermann, associate at Law Offices of Linda A. Kerns, LLC.

1 comment:

Diablo III items said...

Incredible, this really is lovely. Picture every one of the studying and producing you could do this... Chilly in the winter though.