Over the years, American culture and its view on what “family” means has changed drastically. Same sex marriage (while not allowed everywhere) is not as shocking as it once was. Single motherhood has become acceptable and many couples feel that marriage is becoming obsolete. Despite these radically shifting social views, the laws in the U.S. governing what makes up a “family” are slow to keep up. And the people impacted the most by these legal doctrines are sometimes the least aware of them.
Take Chukwudera Okoli, who married his wife, Blessing, in 1991. Despite years of trying to conceive, the couple remained childless through the years – including when they separated in 2001. However, in 2003, Blessing became pregnant with twins through the use of in vitro fertilization, using donor sperm and a donor egg. On March 6 2012, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed a decision by a judge from Probate and Family Court requiring Okoli to pay child support to the twins.
Usually, there would be nothing unusual about a married parent being required to pay child support. Massachusetts, like New York, has a legal presumption that a man is the legal father of any child to whom his wife gives birth to, in addition to a law aimed specifically at artificial insemination, which recognizes the husband as the legal father of children his wife has conceived through artificial insemination. Though Okoli and his wife were separated, they were not divorced (i.e. they were still married) at the time of the birth of the twins and neither of the parents is genetically related to the children. … <Read More>