Are You My Mother?

Developments in technology and advances in science are responsible for creating new and thorny legal issues for our courts – from jurors posting about cases on social media to families battling over the frozen remains of deceased loved ones. Now, a state district judge in Houston has been asked to determine exactly who has parental rights to a set of twins in a case that reads more like a plotline from The Good Wife than a real lawsuit. 

Cindy Close, the mother of twins, was hit with a lawsuit by the children’s biological father based on claims that she agreed to serve as a surrogate mother. Close contends the father never intended to be a full-time dad, and that he changed his story only after the children were born so he and his boyfriend could raise the twins by themselves.

Texas law governing surrogate parents is well-established, but no written contract was signed between Close and the father. The case is pending in Judge Bonnie Hellums’ 247th District Court in Houston, with a ruling expected sometime soon.

Critics of lawyers like to accuse the profession of manufacturing litigation, but this case is an illuminating example of how great our legal system really is. In many cultures, a highly personal and emotional dispute like this would end in violence. And while the question is a novel one, it’s one that our courts are well-equipped to handle. The lack of a written contract likely makes both parties the twin’s parents, and the courts have vast experience in settling child custody disputes, even in unusual family situations. In this case, litigation is an entirely appropriate avenue to determine a fair and just outcome for everyone. Especially the children.   
 

Posted: 10/26/2012 10:25:46 AM by On the Merits Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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