A California appellate court has ruled that actor Jason Patric is the legal parent of his son Gus who was conceived in 2009 and born to his former girlfriend Danielle Schreiber.
The contentious court battle began in 2012 when a family law court ruled that Patric’s sperm donor status prevented him from establishing paternity of his son; the appellate court ruled in 2014 that the donor statute only prevented Patric from proving his paternity on the basis of a biological connection. Upon remand, the family law court found that Patric met the state’s presumed parent requirements.
The appellate court rejected the argument, noting that while Patric was initially considered a donor, it was his post-birth behavior, not biological ties, which had garnered him recognition as Gus’ parent by the court. Legal experts also consider Patric and Schreiber’s personal history as significant. They were in a relationship for several years before breaking up in 2008. The couple also reconciled in 2010 for a brief period of time after Gus was born.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the appellate court issued a 55-page opinion in support of the ruling.
“The fact that Jason initially rejected the idea of being a father is irrelevant because — with Danielle’s encouragement and permission — he slowly developed a father-son relationship with [his son],” the court decided. “The state has an interest in protecting those kinds of relationships, even when they are belatedly developed, because they “‘give young children social and emotional strength and stability.’”
In her petition, Schreiber also maintained that the court should reconsider granting custody to Patric in light of allegations that he had been a perpetrator of domestic violence.
In that regard, the appellate court conditionally reversed the lower court’s award of joint custody to Patric, stating that he must fulfill the counseling requirements mandated by the court in order to rebut the presumption against awarding custody to a parent who has perpetrated domestic violence. Once Patric completes the requirements, the court may reinstate Patric’s award of joint custody.Read More
This is an astounding landmark decision because this is the first time in Italian history that two men have been deemed fathers to the same child. The twins are now seven years of age.
According to the media publication, Local It, the judges agreed that the birth certificates were binding and emphasized that “parental relationships” transcend genetic ties.
“One must consider the importance of parental responsibility, which is manifested in the conscious decision to have and care for the child,” the judges declared in their ruling.
For equal rights proponents, this verdict is momentous.
In a media interview, Marilena Grassadonia, the president of Famiglie Arcobaleno, an Italian-based organization which supports gay rights, shared her views on the recent ruling.
“In the absence of clear laws we hope now that all Italian courts follow the same path,” Grassadonia said, adding, “It is the only way that we can safeguard our children.”
In the court’s response to the ruling, Alexander Schuster, the attorney for the couple who filed the appeal, shared, “This is recognition of full parenthood, in other words, not adoption.” “It has recognized for the first time a foreign provision that gives the second father the status of a parent.”
Under Italian law, surrogacy is prohibited, with imprisonment and high fines potentially imposed on those who take part in a surrogacy arrangement.
However, recent rulings in Italy regarding surrogacy abroad are promising. A few months ago, an Italian court ruled that a same-sex couple whose twins were born to a California surrogate could register their sons as their respective legal children, as each boy was biologically related to one of the men. The court didn’t recognize the twins as brothers, despite being born from eggs from the same donor, but this ruling is still heralded as progressive.
Just last year, same-sex civil unions were passed by the Italian parliament, despite fierce resistance by the Catholic Church.
This newest ruling, granting two men dual paternity over their children sets an unexpected, but very much welcome, legal precedent for an evolving conservative country.Read More
In two separate parts of the world, surrogacy bans and issuance of birth certificates continue to wreak havoc on parents wanting to return home with their babies. Recent media coverage on Cambodia and Mexico has triggered global criticism for those families who cannot move forward and return home with their children.
Cambodia has now become a dreadful situation for many parents since Cambodian officials announced the surrogacy ban in December 2016. While foreign parents were assured their newborns could be taken out of the country just this month its Interior Ministry officials backpedaled on that earlier decision.
“When there is an agreement, we’ll broadcast it. As for cases that are awaiting resolution, we cannot promise how they will be solved,” secretary of state Chou Bun with the Interior Ministry told a reporter. “When we are presented with cases that need resolution, we will solve them according to Cambodian law.”
Although parents are encouraged to “step forward,” many are hesitant as to the uncertainty of their outcome if they do.
One such parent is James, 33, who lives in China where surrogacy remains illegal. While James has returned home, his own parents have relocated to rear his twins in Phnom Penh until a clear cut decision in Cambodia is made. The Chinese embassy is not intervening.
“We are Chinese citizens, but our embassy has never helped and they just want to pretend that nothing has happened,” James told a reporter. “I miss them [twins] so much and I love them.”
While foreign parents remain reticent in Cambodia, over 9,000 miles away in Mexico another legal situation is brewing for three gay parents who want to take their babies home back to Israel. The Mexican Interior Ministry has temporarily restricted the issuance of birth certificates for babies born via a Mexican surrogate.
New father, Shaul Shiri, told a reporter that the reason for this cessation was local government bribery. Shiri along with the other fathers want Israeli officials to step up and help out.
“It is a real mess,” Shiri told the news. “The embassy asked us not to involve lawyers or the media and said they would resolve the situation.”
In Israel, heterosexual couples can use surrogacy to build their families; however, the law does not apply to same-sex couples. Gay individuals and couples must rely on foreign surrogacy.
Working in a stable country, like the US, would prevent these situations—as well as seeking the advice of any attorney before embarking on your surrogacy journey.Read More
State lawmakers Rep. John Lesch and Sen. Sandra Pappas recently unveiled the Minnesota Gestational Carrier Act with the intent to regulate the surrogacy industry. Currently, the state offers no regulatory laws, but with this legislation, standards can be upheld, and intended parents have the right of parentage prior to the birth of their child.
The Act is silent on compensation, and it’s this exclusion that has the opposition concerned – one of which is the Minnesota Family Council.
“Minnesota Family Council believes that the proposed bill dismisses important regulations for the protection of women and children. Compensation must be banned and any proposed surrogacy legislation must additionally prevent the exploitation of women…”
“Our feeling is if everyone else is being compensated — the lawyers, the clinic, doctors — why shouldn’t the person carrying the child be compensated?” Sen. Sandra Pappas told the media.
A number of intended parents understand the commitment and dedication of their surrogates. Invariably, these women are placing their lives on “hold” so they can help carry their intended parents’ baby. Likewise, surrogates are also assuming the risk that goes with pregnancy and childbirth. It is for these very reasons that intended parents want their surrogates to receive a substantial compensation package – without them, they would be unable to have their family.
While each state has their own laws regarding surrogacy, one state viewed as having surrogacy-friendly laws is California due to its Uniform Parentage Act. Its guidelines make the surrogacy process more efficient so that intended parents, regardless of their sexual orientation, have their rights safeguarded.
While the Act is not on the calendar yet for any committee hearings, many are waiting to see if it will reach further than a similar bill that was vetoed in 2008.Read More
An Indiana lawmaker has introduced, House Bill 1059, aimed at health insurance companies adding fertility treatments for its members. According to Representative Robin Shackleford the bill is intended to help individuals diagnosed with infertility by making treatments like in vitro fertilization more affordable and less cost prohibitive. If passed, individuals will not have to shoulder the cost alone.
“I’ve heard a lot of the stories where women have literally drained out their 401k,” Shackleford told Fox News. “We need to see how we can level the playing field, help this service where everyone can afford it.”
Cher Kimbrough is described as the inspiration behind House Bill 1059. Her own personal experiences of infertility prompted her to become an advocate.
Now pregnant with twins, Kimbrough and her partner, Samuel, spent roughly $57,000 on treatments. Due to the high medical costs, it took the couple five years to become pregnant. They eventually traveled from their home state of Indiana to New York for the remainder of their fertility treatments.
“I found the place in New York and it was $4,000 [for treatments]. Right away I’m like what’s the catch? Four thousand dollars for the same thing they’re charging 20 grand for in Indy,” Kimbrough told Fox News. She continued, “It’s like we have to be equal here. And if there’s couples hurting and there’s science available that can heal that hurt, science needs to be accessible for everyone.”
It’s estimated that one in eight women are diagnosed with the disease of infertility. Yet, health insurance companies have ignored this coverage. According to Resolve, The National Infertility Association, they along with other organizations continue to fight for these health insurance rights for both men and women with this medical need.
“The truth is, if an insurance company is ‘for profit’ – like all companies – they need to be profitable in order to survive. They have a responsibility to their shareholders. Those profits are determined by the difference between what they collect in premiums and what they pay out in claims – taking into account sales, marketing, underwriting and administrative costs. Some insurance companies view IVF as a ‘high-risk’ benefit and given the fact that many do not see it as a medical necessity, it is easy for them to make the case not to cover IVF.”
Advocates for House Bill 1059 are hopeful that it will transform traditional medical insurance coverage so that everyone has the right to affordable fertility treatments.Read More
A Canadian court will soon decide if a sperm donor, who claims that he never intended to parent, will be required to retroactively pay child support for two children born from his donation which occurred nearly 20 years ago. Donor Michael Ranson’s attorneys are aiming to dismiss the case in light of Ontario’s new law, Bill 28, otherwise known as the All Families are Equal Act, ratified on Jan. 1, 2017. The new law serves to redefine family law in areas such as surrogacy and egg and sperm donations as assisted reproductive technology becomes more prevalent.
The court must determine if Ranson’s contact with and financial gifts to the children render him a father, rather than a donor. Plaintiff Amie Cullimore believes his behavior did amount to fatherly actions.
“My relationship with the children is that of an uncle or friend, not that of a parent,” Ranson noted in his affidavit.
In the National Post, reporter Ashley Csandady cited Ranson’s attorneys Kelly Jordan and Shirley Levitan, stating, “It’s common in sperm donation cases for the man to stay tangentially involved in the offspring’s lives. In some fertility circles, it’s jokingly referred to as a ‘spuncle.’”
Calling himself a “benevolent uncle” to the children, Ranson generously deposited $20,000 into a savings account and assisted in tuition costs for private schools.
According to Cullimore, “They [children] called him dad and always referred to him as their father.”
The parties also signed a written agreement giving Cullimore complete custody and financial responsibility for her children. Additionally, the sperm donation took place at a California fertility clinic; under California law, Ranson would not be considered a father. But this can be rebutted if Cullimore’s attorneys convince the court that Ranson indeed acted like a father over the years.
Ranson’s attorneys write that Bill 28, “…was designed, in part, to remedy exactly the kind of situation as the case at bar — where a gamete donor is sued for child support, let alone almost 20 years after the donation.” They also added, “If spending two weeks a year with the children and giving gratuitous monetary gifts is all that is required for someone to be endowed with parental rights and responsibilities, there is something alarmingly amiss.”Read More
An Italian court has ruled that a same-sex couple’s twins, born to a California surrogate in 2015, are not in fact brothers, despite being born from eggs from the same donor. The court initially refused to allow the couple to register their sons as their legal children when they returned home to Milan.
Despite obvious disappointment, the men were instructed they could register their biological sons individually, as each was the biological father of one child. As a couple, however, the twins could not be legally declared their children. As of last year, Italy affords same-sex couples civil partnerships but does not allow them adoption or marriage rights. Italian law also declares surrogacy illegal.
Even though the ruling drew instant criticism, those familiar with Italian law are describing it as a step in the right direction. One such entity is Famiglie Arcobaleno, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) which advocates and supports the rights of gay couples and their children.
“It’s the first time that an Italian court has established that a child’s best interest comes before [the legality of] how he or she was born,” the NGO’s president, Marilena Grassadonia, told The Washington Post in a telephone interview. She continued, “The children’s interest was to have a parent. Also, until now the babies were only U.S. citizens, but finally their fathers can pass their Italian citizenship to them.”
In her interview with The Washington Post, Grassadonia pointed out how other nongovernmental organizations like theirs help navigate gay couples to countries where the rights and wellness of surrogates are respected.
“California and Canada are our preferred destinations,” she told the reporter.
Grassadonia went on to say that the twin boys never appeared to be in danger of being removed from their fathers’ care. According to the media coverage, a “removal” could be triggered by two factors in Italy: a surrogate exploited in a poverty-stricken country and/or falsifying information regarding conception.
Many are beginning to realize that the Italian court’s ruling should be viewed as progress. The Italian government recognized these men as the parents of their biological child, despite knowing they are a same-sex couple who had children in the United States by way of surrogacy.
While it’s bittersweet the children are not legally recognized as a family per se, this is still progress in Italy – and any progress like this should be encouraged and applauded.