Typically questions of parenthood, and any ensuing rights and responsibilities, hinge on paternity. Rarely is there a question regarding the rightful mother of a child. However, this blog recently detailed a Houston custody battle ensuing between a man and a woman regarding twins born in July of this year, and the question of whether or not the woman that birthed the twins had parental rights.
Reportedly, the woman and man involved in this custody dispute were not romantically involved. However, they agreed to have children and co-parent together. Due to the woman's age and worries over the health of the children, the pair decided to use donor eggs. Through in vitro fertilization, the man's sperm was implanted in the donor eggs, which the woman then carried through surrogacy, eventually delivering the twins this summer.
When the children were born, the man attempted to gain custody, and said the woman was only a surrogate and should not have parental rights because there was no genetic link. However, according to a local report, there was never a surrogate agreement. Conversely, the Houston woman maintains it was always meant to be a co-parenting relationship; therefore she should have parental rights.
A Houston judge recently sided with the woman, ruling that she was in fact the mother of the children, rather than simply a surrogate. According to mother's attorney, "The family code of Texas matter-of-factly states that the mother and child relationship is established by giving birth to the child. The law says nothing about being genetically or biologically related."
Nov. 26 the parents will return to court to establish custody in addition to parental rights and duties. The woman is hoping to be awarded custody. She says that it has been very painful that since she birthed the twins she feels as though she has been relegated to the fringes, missing important moments in the lives of her children.
Source: Houston Chronicle, "Judge says woman is mother, not surrogate," Renee C. Lee, Nov. 9, 2012
- Our firm has experience handling similar disputes. For more information, please visit our Houston child custody and visitation page.