Does Conception Through Artificial Insemination Affect Paternity Rights?
Creating a child is a wondrous process that almost feels mysterious when a person considers how a child is conceived and develops until birth. The reproductive options a couple have to create a child are increasing every day, but artificial insemination is still a popular method to form an embryo when biological barriers put natural conception out of reach. Artificial insemination may be accomplished through the use of a couple’s own eggs and sperm or through donated eggs and/or sperm from strangers or known donors. Because the child was not conceived naturally, questions may arise about the couple’s parental rights, particularly the man’s. Paternity is the legal recognition of a man as a child’s legal father, which brings obligations to support the child, but also, rights to ask for parenting time if the couple separates at some point and to make decisions on the child’s behalf. Married men are normally presumed to be a child’s legal father at the time of birth, but does the use of artificial insemination change this rule? In an extremely complicated case that is just beginning, a doctor is accused of using his own sperm to artificially inseminate a woman, instead of her husband’s, in the mid-1970s. A lawsuit based upon fraud, malpractice, and battery is now pending, but the case raises an important question about who is more important legally – the mother’s husband or the biological father. A discussion of how or if artificial insemination influences the determination a man as the legal father, and the procedure for paternity claims in general, will follow below.
Artificial Insemination and Paternity
Paternity relates to a father’s rights as a parent. Because the mother gives birth to the child, it is well-assumed she is the mother, and if she is married, her husband is the presumed father. Of course, with artificial insemination and other reproductive assistance methods, the DNA of the intended parents are not necessarily included. However, lawmakers, understanding the need and purpose of artificial insemination and other reproductive techniques, passed a law that a husband and wife are a child’s presumed parents in this situation, as long as they signed an agreement that consented to the procedure. The same rule applies to in vitro insemination and donated eggs or pre-embryos. Further, if the reproductive material is donated, Florida law requires this person to relinquish their rights to the child, which protects the parents from future parental claims, but also protects the donor from petitions for child support and other legal obligations. Thus, paternity in the context of assisted reproduction would really only be an issue where the couple is not married.
Procedure to Establish Paternity
Unwed mothers have sole rights over a child and are viewed as the natural custodian until paternity is established. Mothers have the right to pursue paternity actions on their child’s behalf, which will enable the collection of child support and the division of parental responsibilities. The division of parental responsibilities is a complicated issue, and parents are better off working with an experienced family law attorney on how to divide these duties in an appropriate manner.
Paternity may be established through a voluntary acknowledgement or a court order. Both parents must consent to the voluntary acknowledgement, but either parent can initiate a court action to establish paternity, which is based upon the results of scientific testing and evidence of the couple’s relationship before, during, and after pregnancy. These cases can be highly contentious, so if paternity is contested, seeking representation by a family law attorney is the best source to present a strong and convincing case.
Speak to a Florida Family Law Attorney
Paternity and the associated reproductive rights tend to provoke strong emotions if a claim is challenged. The attorneys at the All Family Law Group, P.A. know the strain you are experiencing, and want to help you obtain a fair outcome. If you have issues related to paternity, or parental rights in general, talk to our attorneys about your options as soon as possible. These cases only get harder with time. Contact the Tampa divorce and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-672-1900 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+