This is really tangled up, the judge needed the wisdom of Solomon, and he fell way short of that mark.
There are many ways to form a family, and all families deserve equal respect under the law.
By ELLEN TRACHMAN
April 7, 2021 at 11:42 AM
A lot of surprising things happen when the use of assisted reproductive technology slams up against outdated family law doctrines. I see a lot of unexpected cases that end up in this column. This case is actually shocking to me.
Michigan residents LaNesha Matthews and Kyresha LeFever became a couple in 2011, and, like many couples, decided they wanted to have children together. They found a path to parenthood that allowed them each, as a same-sex female couple, to play special roles. They conceived through “reciprocal IVF” or a “co-maternity” arrangement, among the procedure’s many names. LeFever underwent an ova (egg) retrieval procedure, her eggs were fertilized in a fertility clinic with sperm from a donor, and the resulting embryos were transferred to Matthews’ uterus. The procedure was successful, and Matthews gave birth to twins.
At the time, pre-Obergefell, the couple was not legally permitted to marry. Moreover, they knew that Michigan law would not permit both mothers to appear on the children’s birth certificates. In order to rectify this, the couple decided to give birth in Ohio, where they believed both mothers could be named as parents on the birth certificates. It’s not entirely clear if that would have worked. Regardless, due to the twins’ arrival two months early, the Ohio birth plan did not pan out, and the birth occurred in Michigan. Matthews, as the birthing mother, was listed on the babies’ birth certificates, while LeFever was not. However, the children were given LeFever’s last name.
The couple raised the children together for several years, but split up in 2014. They continued to co-parent from separate households until 2016, when Matthews experienced serious medical issues, causing LeFever to take over primary parenting. In 2018, the couple was unable to resolve their custody disagreements on their own, and LeFever filed suit. Here’s where things got crazy.