In what may be a groundbreaking case for Texas family law, the courts may have to redefine what a mother is. The family law issue comes with the problems that IVF can create, as well as issues concerning surrogacy. The problem began when one woman, in order to fulfill her dream of being a mother, supposedly asked one of friends to be a donor so that she could become pregnant using in vitro fertilization. At the time, the mother figured that the father, who apparently had been interested in being a father, could assume a part-time role as a father while she would be the main figure in the child’s life.
She used donor eggs based on the medical advice given to her, as she was 47 years old and there was a higher chance of birth defects. She proceeded to become pregnant with twins. After having the children, though, the father came forward and demanded custody of them. He claims the woman only agreed to be a surrogate mother and should not be entitled to full custody rights. Though she never signed a contract stating that she was willing to be a surrogate mother, Texas law allows for other arrangements for surrogacy.Currently, the father has custody, though the mother is suing to have full custody. She has been given limited visitation, two hours a day on weekdays and four hours on Sunday. However, a camera monitoring system has been put in place to make sure she isn’t doing anything she isn’t allowed to do, such as use her phone, take pictures of the children, or breast-feed them.
There are many complicated aspects of this case and it will not be an easy case to decide for any judge. However, it is hoped that this case will eventually advance family law so that the law is able to keep up with rapidly developing technology. In the future, it is hoped that the courts will be able to make these decisions in a quick and fair matter for all.
Source: Houston Chronicle, “Court case may define what a “mother” is,” Brian Rogers, Sept. 27, 2012