Child custody disputes can have many different elements, as they’re not only legal matters but often highly emotional ones. Given the critical stakes in these issues, anyone dealing with a child custody dispute should be fully aware of one’s rights and options in a court of law. Here in Houston, a Harris County courtroom is the scene of an interesting custody battle pitting two gay Houston men against a supposed surrogate mother who claims she didn’t know she was only supposed to be a surrogate.
The 48-year-old woman gave birth to twins conceived via in vitro fertilization in July at Texas Children’s Medical Center, according to a report from KHOU. The woman said she was shocked to discover later that night from a social worker that she was considered only the children’s surrogate mother.
She’s arguing that one of the Houston men duped her into carrying and delivering the implanted embryos by making her believe she would be a partner in parenting the twins. The man paid for the in vitro fertilization using his sperm and a donor egg — the surrogate has no genetic connection to the children.
After the July birth of the twins, the man and his male partner claimed legal custody of them. The woman said she was in a purely platonic relationship with the man, and she had no idea that he was gay. She told a reporter that the agreement was informal because it was “based on trust.” There was never any contract signed or any financial compensation agreed upon.
The children were born prematurely, necessitating a lengthy stay in the hospital. The men have claimed that because the woman has no genetic link to the children, she legally cannot be their mother.
Regardless of what happens with this case, it’s a reminder that when dealing with issues as important as child custody, understanding one’s legal rights and ensuring them through a written agreement or contract is imperative. An experienced family law attorney can help create a well-rounded contract.
Source: KHOU.com, “Judge to decide custody rights for surrogate twins,” Nov. 5, 2012