Changes to family structure increasingly prompt changes to family paperwork, including in some communities where a birth certificate lists three parents instead of the customary two.
Thursday, New Jersey attorney Tabltha Y. Clark issued a press release announcing she's going to take on New Jersey's attorney general, who is asking a court there to vacate an order that gives three adults equal legal parental rights. She's also seeking on behalf of her clients a birth certificate that includes the names of all three parents.
That's not common, but neither is it without precedent. Internationally, families are choosing their own structure and increasingly they ask for the paperwork to back it up. For instance, Argentina in May became the first Latin American country "to recognize same-sex partners and a biological parent on a child's birth certificate," according to The Advocate.
In 2013, ABC News reported that a Miami judge had allowed a same-sex female couple and the male friend who provided the sperm so one of them women could become pregnant to all be listed on the child's birth certificate, for a total of three parents. When he became concerned they were leaving him out, he sought legal protection of his parental rights; the three were able to work things out.
ABC reported that "according to Florida law, sperm donors do not have any parental rights. However, (a spokesman) stressed that this case was not affected by this law and does not affect the current Florida law, because there is an agreement between the two parties."
Often, the cases involve a same-sex couple and an opposite-sex friend who agrees to help facilitate a pregnancy by providing either sperm or egg.
Two years ago, a lesbian couple and their male friend became British Columbia's first three-parent group to take advantage of a new law that allows that on birth certificates, according to Huffington Post.
Before the baby "was conceived, the three drafted a contract outlining how they wanted their family to work. The British Columbian law, called the Family Law Act, said the contracts have to be in place before the child is conceived. The parents agreed the two women would be financially responsible for the baby and would have custody, but the male "would be a legal guardian with rights to access," the article said.
The case Clark is litigating is a little different, according to the release. "The case, E.Q. v. E.C. & D.L., began in 2012 as a civil union dissolution action in Warren County when E.Q. sought to divorce her wife E.C. One child was born of the marriage to E.C. and was thought to have been conceived by artificial insemination. E.Q., the non-biological mother, later formally adopted the child. Biological father D.L. plead into the pending divorce as a third party plaintiff and proved that the child was conceived in an extra-marital affair with E.C. In March 2013, the parties entered into a consent order whereby they would each be the child's legal parent with equal rights and be afforded reasonable parenting time."
"We wanted to decide for ourselves what our family looks like and how it is defined," said E.Q. in a written statement. "Ours is a story like many others across the nation whose family does not fit in the state's predetermined boxes."
She suggested the decision will impact many LGBT families.
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