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Woman in Same-Sex Relationship Gets Custody of Twins Despite No Genetic Tie

BY IN General

A Michigan woman who gave birth to twins while in a same-sex relationship is considered the girls’ parent for custody purposes, even though she does not have any genetic ties to them, a federal appeals court recently ruled.

Lanesha Matthews gave birth to the twins after her partner Kyresha LeFever’s eggs were fertilized by a sperm donor and placed in Matthews’ womb, according to U.S. News & World Report. LeFever later sought custody of the kids after the couple split.

The ensuing litigation gained public attention and raised important legal questions about handling family law issues in situations involving couples who use assisted reproductive technology.

A Wayne County judge ruled that LeFever was the “natural and legal mother” of the children” and ordered that her name be added to their birth certificates. LeFever was awarded custody of the kids, while Matthews was treated as a surrogate and permitted parenting time.

The Michigan Court of Appeals overturned that decision, ruling that both women should be treated as the children’s parents. It said the trial court incorrectly interpreted the term “natural parent” under state law.

“We conclude that the term ‘natural parent’ is elastic enough to include both parents in this case, where the parties divided the female reproductive roles of conceiving a child so that each has assumed a function traditionally used to evidence a legal maternal relationship,” the court said. “However, we note that the advent of assisted reproductive technology has complicated an area of law that traditionally was fairly straightforward.”

Judge Elizabeth Gleicher of the appeals court agreed with the decision but said in a concurring opinion that the issue was more simple.

“A woman who gives birth to a child is that child’s natural mother under the common law, and there is no reason to look elsewhere for meaning,” Gleicher wrote.

How Can a Grand Rapids Child Custody Attorney Help You

The Matthews case is just one example of the numerous issues that can come up when parents decide to go their separate ways. The good news is that you do not have to go it alone. An experienced child custody lawyer can help you understand your rights and options and guide you through the legal process.

At Kraayeveld Law, we help people efficiently untangle their marriages and resolve a wide range of related issues, like child custody, visitation, and support, as well as alimony and asset division. Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a proud track record of successful results for the people we represent.

As experienced family law attorneys, we understand the pain and stress that often comes with a custody dispute or related legal issue. A Grand Rapids child custody attorney at our firm will take the time to understand your unique needs and craft a legal strategy designed to achieve your specific goals.

Call 616-285-0808 or contact us online to make an appointment to speak with a Grand Rapids child custody attorney about your situation.