When a Plan to Have a Baby Goes Really, Really Wrong

Will and GraceWill and Grace tried to co-parent as well, remember?

Family law attorneys often feel that we have seen it all when it comes to crazy, far-fetched child custody cases. And then, we stumble upon cases like this one.

A 47-year-old Texas woman is currently involved in a–for the lack of a better word–crazy custody battle for her twins in Harris County, Texas. She is fighting the biological father of her children, who was not her husband or even boyfriend, but a friend who donated his sperm with the agreement that they would co-parent together. On the surface, it sounds like one of those “if we don’t have children by the time we’re forty” promises that many people make in jest, especially on TV sit-coms. These two friends both wanted to be parents, but they decided they made better friends than lovers, so they entered into an agreement that they would have children together. According to the woman’s story, she agreed to stay at home and raise the child and he would provide financial support.

Since the woman was past developing viable eggs, she used an anonymous donor’s eggs as well as her friend’s donated sperm. When she did get pregnant via insemination, the man asked her to move to another state with him and his close friend. In the first real weird twist, the man asked her to sign an affidavit he drafted himself, that stated she was not the biological mother of the children, but he was the biological father.

Immediately after she gave birth to twins this past July at Texas Children’s Hospital, the man served her with a temporary restraining order and he took temporary child custody of the infants in court. The twins currently live with the man and his romantic partner.

The woman promptly sued him and his new partner, accusing them of fraud, intentionally causing emotional distress, and other allegations. Her attorney has further stipulated that under Texas law, a surrogacy agreement is only valid between a woman and a MARRIED couple.

Obviously this child custody case is far from simple, but the issue revolving around the case remains the same, no matter how convoluted the case becomes: what is in the best interest of these babies?

Probably the most important thing we can learn from this case is the importance, especially when working outside the familial framework our society has come to consider normal, of seeking good legal advice before, during and after planning this type of arrangement. Properly thought out, and executed, legal documents could have likely prevented most, if not all, of these problems and uncertainty.

The custody battle has not been scheduled for a final court date as of yet, but hopefully, for the sake of these babies, this will make the express lane on the docket.


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