Lawyer: Same-Sex Custody Case Affects Reproductive Medicine, Family Stability

Nov 8, 2013

Credit Sarah Sullivan via LinkedIn

Family law experts say a Thursday Florida Supreme Court ruling gives more stability to children of some same-sex couples. The custody decision also changes how doctors must deal with same-sex couples who seek help getting pregnant.

The high court ruled gay parents are due parental rights if children are conceived with their DNA and they help raise their child. Florida Coastal Law School Professor Sarah Sullivan says the court struck down part of a law essentially defining a mother as an egg donor with no rights. The unconstitutional statute said a so-called “commissioning couple” is a man and woman. Sullivan says the Legislature should rewrite that definition.

“You could definitely just say that a commissioning couple is the intended parent, the two parents of a child who will be conceived with the means of assisted reproductive technology. Take gender as far as mother and father out of it," she suggests.

The dissenting opinion in the case says the mother signed her rights away in her doctor’s office when she had her eggs harvested. But Sullivan says in light of the ruling, reproductive doctors will have to update the forms they use to allow for same-sex couples to be recognized as equal parents.