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Tennessee Supreme Court Rules on Child Custody Dispute in Surrogacy Case

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Surrogacy is steadily becoming a more common option for parents who can’t have children of their own, but with the addition of a third party (read: the surrogate mother) to the mix, child custody laws can become a bit murky.

Recently, however, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that parental rights cannot be taken from the surrogate mother before the child is born.

In 2010, an Italian couple found a Tennessee woman through a surrogacy agency who was willing to act as a surrogate mother for them because they couldn’t have a child of their own.

In 2011, the surrogate mother was artificially inseminated by the intended father.  Over the course of the pregnancy, the intended parents paid for many of the parenting expenses, costing approximately $70,000.  Then, two months before the child was born, both parties filed a joint petition to declare the paternity of the child, grant custody of the child to the intended parents custody, and terminate the surrogate parents’ parental rights.

After the child was born in 2012, both parties agreed that the surrogate mother should breastfeed the child for a period of time for health benefits.  Before the child was a week old, though, the surrogate mother had a change of heart and asked the juvenile court to award her custody of the child.  Her request was denied, and the juvenile court gave the intended parents custody of the child.

The Tennessee Supreme Court, however, has recently ruled that the juvenile court was out of place in terminating the surrogate parent’s rights before the child was born.  The juvenile court would have only been allowed to terminate the surrogate parent’s rights if they had had a lawful reason to do so.

The Tennessee Supreme court upheld the intended father’s right to have custody of the child, but has remanded the dispute to the juvenile court in order to determine visitation and child support details.

If you are having issues with your current child custody arrangements, don’t settle for being barred from your child.  Call us today to speak with a professional child custody attorney and fight your right to parenthood.

Call 615-898-0607

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