Surrogacy in New York: Not Simple

With the ratings success of the new NBC television sitcom, The New Normal, it might be worth reviewing surrogacy laws in New York to determine whether the process is as simple and quick as the show makes it seem.In short, the show is about Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha), who are a gay California couple hoping to start a family through a surrogate named Goldie (Georgia King). Now, there are two common types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. Traditional surrogacy involves insemination of the surrogate’s egg with sperm, resulting in the surrogate being the biological mother. Gestational surrogacy involves implantation of an embryo, formed from a donor sperm and a donor egg, into the surrogate, resulting in the surrogate being biologically unrelated to the baby.

New York makes surrogacy difficult because New York’s Domestic Relations Law § 122 states that surrogacy agreements are against public policy. Specifically, the DRL states, “Surrogate parenting contracts are hereby declared contrary to the public policy of this state, and are void and unenforceable.” It also prohibits people from paying or accepting money in relation to the agreement, except for medical fees and hospital expenses. The state can monetarily penalize anyone who pays a “surrogacy fee” or accepts one. This means that if the intended parents and the surrogate mother are from New York, the surrogate does not have to give up the baby despite having signed an agreement. Thus, the intended parents may only work with a surrogate who resides in a state that allows surrogacy and should draft all agreements in the state where the surrogate lives.… <Read More>


Problems still exist in New York’s temporary maintenance law

It has been over a year since unilateral no-fault divorce was adopted in New York. No-fault divorce, which now exists in all states, permits one spouse to receive a divorce by swearing that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for six months or more.

Ever since the law’s passage, it has had critics and supporters. The law, which includes a small provision about temporary spousal support (also known as alimony and maintenance), is currently being analyzed by the state’s independent Law Revision Commissions:  According to a Wall Street Journal article by Sophia Hollander, there are “troubling aspects” of the strict formula for awarding temporary spousal support. A report is due in April.

Temporary maintenance is awarded when the income of the “less-monied” spouse is less than two thirds the income of the spouse with the higher income. The formula calls for maintenance to be the lesser of a) 30% of the payor’s income minus 20% of the non-payor’s income or b) 40% of the combined income minus the non-payor’s income. Income for calculation of temporary maintenance is to be capped at $500,000, and judges are free to adjust amounts when the income exceeds $500,000.

The law aimed to protect the low-income spouse, but ended up hurting the affluent spouse by shifting income unfairly. At times, it even transformed the richer spouse into the poorer one.

The movement is to make the law less binding on judges and more advisory; however, the fear is that it will lose its effect.

Westchester Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, the primary sponsor of the alimony law, said, “[The 2010 law is] better for women.<Read More>


That’s not my daughter. Can I get a refund?

For the most part, the headline sums up what Eric Fischer asked Connecticut’s highest court, following a divorce from his wife. According to ABC news writer Christina Ng, Fischer discovered that the daughter he was raising was not biologically his. In the case, the court ruled that Fischer could sue the biological father, Richard Zollino, for $190,000 – the cost of raising the girl for 15 years. Fischer v. Zollino, 303 Conn. 661 (2012). The numerical figure was based on an expert witness’ calculation.

During his marriage, Fischer claimed to have seen red flags regarding the girl’s paternity. On the ride back from the hospital when the girl was born, his wife’s friend and business partner, Zollino, joined the couple in the limo. Awkward. Additionally, Zollino was present at the girl’s music recitals and graduation; however, he was not present at events of the couple’s other daughter. Creepy.

For 15 years he suspected, but never said anything. Finally, he obtained a hair sample from the girl and submitted it for a paternity test along with his DNA. The results came in October of 2006 and stated that he was not the father. The couple divorced soon after in 2007, and a test later proved that Zollino was the father.

Initially, Fischer looks at fault for not officially questioning the paternity earlier in the marriage. It seems there should be a time cap on challenging paternity. Or should there? The first thought that came to mind was that Fischer held the girl out as his own by attending major events in her life and by financially providing for her.… <Read More>


Gay Adoptions in U.S. Triple, but Inequality Still Exists

Recent studies show that gay and lesbian couples are adopting more than ever. According to UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, the number of children granted to gay and lesbian couples nearly tripled over the last decade. This is definitely positive news for the gay rights movement as well as beneficial to children placed in foster care and adoption agencies.… <Read More>