Family law in the legislative trenches

by on July 27, 2008  •  In Family law

For a highly regarded scholar of family law, Nancy Polikoff (AU) is amazingly engaged as an activist — which is to say, she actually takes on major projects and does them, rather than simply describing herself as an activist. Currently, she is pressing the DC City Council to amend that jurisdiction’s law on alternative parenting. She’s posting the back story on her blog:


… The last major area that needs law reform [in DC] concerns the status of couples having children together. So it’s logical that we pass legislation that will give DC what California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont already have — a presumption that a child born to one domestic partner is the child of the other.

DC is also one of a minority of states with no statute on donor insemination. Many of those statutes are old and apply only to married (heterosexual) couples, but the modern statutes apply to all women. The best framework does two things: it says that when two people (married/registered or not) decide to have a child using donor insemination and both intend to raise the child as their own, then they are both the parents of the child; and it says that a semen donor is not a parent unless there is a written agreement to the contrary.

Legislation recently introduced in the DC City Council accomplishes these goals. So imagine the shock of the legislation’s supporters when the DC Office of the Attorney General sent a letter — but no witness — to the July 11 hearing on the bill. The letter reflected complete ignorance about families headed by same-sex couples, about reproduction using assisted conception, and about the laws in other states. The OAG didn’t know that the Social Security Administration recognizes a parent-child relationship between a child and her nonbiological mother who was in a Vermont civil union with the biological mother when the child was born, even though the Washington Post had an editorial about the case days before the letter was written! …. [more at the link]


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