The Importance of Legislative Support for Same-Sex Parents: Insights from a Pennsylvania Appellate Case
A recent case before the Pennsylvania Superior Court has brought to light the vital need for new legislation to support same-sex parents in the state. The case involved a same-sex couple who had contracted a sperm donation and used in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive a child. However, before the child was born, the couple separated, and the non-biological parent filed a petition to confirm parentage to the unborn child.
The Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia initially granted legal parentage to the non-biological parent, but the Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned the decision, stating that the contract was not specific enough to be legally enforceable under existing contract principles and prior cases.
Attorney Barbara Schneider, who represented the couple, argued that the contract only anticipated legal parenting rights for the non-biological parent after a formal adoption, which did not occur in this case. Schneider emphasized that Pennsylvania does not currently recognize the presumption of parentage for same-sex couples who conceive a child during their marriage, as is the case in California.
This outcome highlights the importance of legislative support for same-sex parents in Pennsylvania. It also underscores the need for same-sex parents to exercise caution when planning to have a child and to ensure that any contracts they sign are reviewed by legal counsel to include necessary provisions. Schneider recommends that same-sex couples also consider prenuptial agreements as an added measure of protection.
According to Schneider, “The pressure should be on the legislature rather than the courts because the superior court is bound by precedent. The Superior Court cannot make new law.” This case emphasizes the need for Pennsylvania to follow the example of other states that have enacted legislation to support same-sex parents and ensure that they have equal legal rights when it comes to parenting their children.
In conclusion, this case has highlighted the need for legislative support for same-sex parents in Pennsylvania. Until the state enacts such legislation, same-sex couples must exercise caution when signing contracts related to parenthood and seek the guidance of legal counsel to ensure they have the necessary provisions.