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The New “Modern Family” is Governed by “Un-Modern” Laws

By Jeffrey Knipmeyer on May 6, 2014

Illinois Same Sex Family LawThere is plenty of talk nowadays about what makes a family unit.  Whether based on religious beliefs or personal reasons, there are a variety of ideas as to what constitutes a family; a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads, or grandparents and children, the combinations are seemingly endless.  So, what happens when your idea of a family is challenged by laws that don’t meet up to a more modern take on families?

More and more same sex couples are looking for ways to start their own family and have children.  Biologically, this can prove to be a challenge, and typically, a third party needs to be brought in to make this dream a reality, either through adoption or artificial insemination.  While it may not be uncommon for same sex couples to turn to the modern procedure of artificial insemination to start a family, the practice is still met with resistance by some not so modern laws.

If a lesbian couple wanted to be artificially inseminated and would prefer that the donor have no rights as a father in the child’s life, the couple could opt for an “anonymous donor” and the procedure would have to take place at a physician’s office. This may seem like a logical idea, but many couples would prefer to handle the procedure in the comfort and privacy of their own home.  However, in several states, including Kansas and Illinois, the sperm donor is legally on the hook as the biological father when the insemination procedure is done at home.

Unfortunately, problems can arise when outdated laws interfere with modern couples. For example, a couple in Kansas performed an artificial insemination in their home, with a donor who wanted no fatherly rights or responsibilities.  All three parties filled out a contract they found online and agreed that the donor would legally have no “responsibility to raise any resulting children, including custody, visitation rights, and specifically that the donor would have no paternal rights that are traditionally vested in the biological father of a child.”

Some months later, the lesbian couple needed government assistance in the form of food stamps and welfare aid. The DCFS application requested the father’s information, but when the woman put down “donor” for the father’s identity, the state asked to see the donor contract.  When it was determined that the insemination was not performed in a physician’s office, the state went after the donor for child support and back pay for services already provided to the couple through DCFS.

Due to such outdated laws regarding families and artificial insemination, this modern family was placed under severe emotional and financial trauma when it was discovered that they hadn’t been under the care of a physician at the time of insemination.  An antiquated law for our modern time?  Or fair?  You be the judge!

If you and your partner are considering adoption or artificial insemination, please contact the family law attorneys at Nottage and Ward to ensure that your legal rights are protected.

Summarized from an article in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin – “Modern Families, Outdated State Laws”

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