Tennessee Surrogate Mother Files for Custody, Visitation Rights Pending

by Admin on September 26, 2014

The Courthouse News Service reports that a surrogate mother, who filed for custody after giving birth and changing her mind about giving up the baby, is still the baby’s legal parent due to jurisdiction errors and may have visitation rights in a Tennessee Supreme Court ruling.

The woman became a surrogate for an Italian couple—the intended parents—and signed a contract in July 2010 agreeing to terminate her parental rights. A juvenile magistrate issued a consent order terminating the parental rights of the surrogate and her husband in December 2011, one month before a baby girl was born to the surrogate.

Less than a week after the baby was born, the surrogate mother filed for custody under claims that under state law it wasn’t a “surrogate birth” because the intended parents weren’t married, reports Courthouse News.

Several lower courts denied the surrogate’s motion. The case went to the Tennessee Supreme Court with ruled that the surrogate mother’s parental rights were not in fact terminated because “state law does not allow a juvenile court to adjudicate a parental rights termination petition,” according to Courthouse News.

“Our ruling does not preclude the termination of the parental rights of the surrogate in a future proceeding,” stated the court ruling. “Absent a basis for involuntary termination, however, termination may only occur if the surrogate executes a surrender or consents to a petition for adoption. Furthermore, unless and until termination of the parental rights of the surrogate occurs, she will retain both the rights and responsibilities associated with legal parenthood.”

The parental rights of a surrogate mother are often a much-contested area of surrogacy policy not just in the U.S., but internationally. Under child custody laws in Thailand, for example, a mother is legally defined as the woman who gives birth to the child. Therefore, a surrogate mother retains full legal rights to a baby regardless of whether another woman was the egg donor or not.

The fact that Thailand law gives parental rights to a surrogate mother has added an additional dimension to the current commercial surrogacy crackdown in Thailand.

Read the full story:

Courthouse News Service – Surrogate Mother May Have Visitation Rights


Related Stories:

Surrogacy in Thailand: Laws and Regulations

Thailand Surrogacy Baby Factory: Harvest of Stem-Cells for Cosmetics “Worst Case Scenario”

New Law Gives Grandparents More Rights in Nova Scotia

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