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Surrogate mother awarded joint custody of twins

A Texas judge has decided an unusual child custody case involving a surrogate mother and the man she claims tricked her. The judge ruled that a woman who gave birth to twins using a donor egg is a mother to the children she carried. Had the judge ruled against the woman, there could have been implications for other women who give birth using donor eggs.

The case arose in July when the 48-year-old woman gave birth to the twins. She was not biologically related to the children. Instead, a friend had paid for the woman's in vitro fertilization using a donor egg and his sperm. Although the two were not in a romantic relationship, the woman believed they would raise the children together. It was only when a social worker visited her in the hospital after the children were born that she first learned the man considered her to be a surrogate.

Following the birth of the children, the biological father and his partner filed suit challenging the woman's maternal rights. While the case was pending, the woman was granted limited visitation rights to see the children two hours a day, six days a week. Pursuant to the judge's ruling, the woman and the biological father will now share custody. There will be a hearing to further determine the conditions.

While not all child custody litigation are as complicated as the surrogate case, child custody disputes can be difficult and emotionally draining. Child custody matters are resolved in the best interests of the children involved. An experienced family law attorney can help reach a result that protects a parent's rights while promoting a child's best interests.

Source: KHOU-TV, "Judge determines 'duped surrogate' is a mother," Andrew Horansky, Nov. 9, 2012

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