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"Unusual arrangement" reached in Florida parenting rights case

A two-year paternity battle has ended with a Florida judge approving an adoption that will list three individuals as parents on the child's birth certificate. The decision is a potentially landmark move that could see similar conclusions to child custody battles or issues of paternity rights.

This particular adoption of a 22-month-old girl will name as legal parents a married lesbian couple and a gay man. It resolves a fight between a couple who received a sperm donation and the donor, who later wanted to play a larger role in the young girl's life.

The donation was made after the lesbian couple failed to become pregnant through fertility clinics. When they solicited and received the sperm donation, though, they weren't familiar with all of the legal implications and failed to put together a written document outlining the rights and responsibilities of the donor. An experienced attorney could have helped them do that.

While sperm donors have no legal rights in Florida, no hard document existed to identify the man as a donor, making it hard for a judge to deny the donor based on an alleged verbal agreement.

Now, the donor will be allowed to spend certain holidays and other quality time with the girl. Legally, he will have the same rights as both of the mothers, who will maintain sole custody of the girl.

The two women will also maintain sole parental rights. Meanwhile the donor will maintain visitation rights with his daughter, and he will not have to pay child support to the couple.

Source: Reuters, "Florida judge approves birth certificate listing three parents," Kevin Gray, Feb. 7, 2013

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