Family Law

A child can have two legal mothers, Nevada Supreme Court says


A child born in Nevada can have two legal mothers, the Nevada Supreme Court has declared in a dispute over custodial rights between two women.

The court overturned a ruling that found the co-parenting agreement signed by the one-time partners was unenforceable as a matter of law. How Appealing notes coverage by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and links to the opinion (PDF).

The lower court had ruled against Sha’Kayla St. Mary, who was asserting legal rights to a child she carried for her one-time partner, Veronica Lynn Damon. The child was the product of in vitro fertilization using Damon’s egg and sperm from an anonymous donor. St. Mary gave birth to the baby, whose last name was St. Mary-Damon, in June 2008.

The court said St. Mary was entitled to a hearing on whether she was a surrogate without legal rights to the child or whether she was a legal mother. If the lower court finds that both women are the child’s legal parents, the supreme court said, the judge should consider the co-parenting agreement and its enforceability in determining custody.

St. Mary had testified she and Damon created the parenting agreement so both women would be related to the child, while Damon said they signed the contract merely to satisfy the fertility clinic’s requirements and to provide insurance for the child.

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