A lesbian couple in Florida is one of many facing legal battles in regards to the children they biologically carried.
Laura Cavin and Sheri Green are the parents of a set of quadruplets who recently reached their first birthday. Through the utilization of reproductive medicine, the women were able to achieve their hopes of parenthood together. However, eventhough they were able to bring the babies into the world, the legal side of their parental rights isn't so straightforward.
Though all four of the embryos implanted were made up of the eggs of Sheri and a sperm donor, under Florida law, the women only have legal rights to the two children that they each carried and delivered.
In order to have full legal rights to all four of the children, the women must adopt the other two children, but for more than 30 years, Florida has banned adoption by gay people. Meaning that, as the law currently stands, the mothers cannot legally adopt their other two children.
Sheri, who works full time, has health insurance, which covers the two children she carried, but because Laura works only part time, she isn't eligible for health insurance, so her two children are covered by Medicaid. In this scenario, if the women were a heterosexual couple, all four of the children would be covered by the full time parent's health insurance, without the need for the adoption procedure (which would actually be possible in the case of a heterosexual couple).
In addition to health insurance concerns, there are also concerns about what could happen if one or both of the women die or become incapacitated. While they have wills that appoint each other as legal guardians of their birth children. Even this, however, does not ensure the children will be kept together .
The state of gay adoption is under review, as a 2010 Florida appeals court ruling upheld a Miami-Dade County judge's decision that called the ban unconstitutional.
"It is uncertain when the cases will be decided," said the couple's attorney Harold Eskin, "but provided the outcomes are favorable, this will set the stage for others to follow and future cases should take less time." State officials have said that they won't challenge the appellate ruling.
These are some of the issues I touched on in Structuring Your Domestic Partnership, but some things simply cannot be solved by contract--e.g. health insurance. It will be interesting to see not only how this individual case turns out, but whether Florida decides to reverse its decision regarding gay adoption. A Family Law Attorney can help anticipate some of these issues, and help to structure your modern family.
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