Recently, the Supreme Court of Idaho issued an important decision in the case of Gatsby v. Gatsby which highlights the importance of properly executed legal agreements. The temptation to use general, template legal agreements that you can purchase or find online for free may be strong, but legal documents need to be properly drafted and executed to protect your rights. Unfortunately, Linsay Gatsby learned the full force of this lesson the hard way.
Idaho Supreme Court Rules in Same-Sex Couple Parental Rights Case
In June of 2015, Linsay and Kylee Gatsby were married and proceeded with plans to conceive and raise a child together. A same-sex couple, the Gatsbys found a mutual friend who agree to act as a sperm donor, and all three parties signed a sperm donation agreement that Linsay had found online. Without an attorney to oversee the execution of the agreement, the sperm donor agreed to waive any rights or responsibilities regarding a child produced subsequent to the agreement. Both Linsay and Kylee were listed as the “recipient” in the agreement and both would attempt to use the sperm to get pregnant and have rights to raise the child.
After the agreement was signed by everyone, Kylee conceived a child. When the child was born, both Linsay and Kylee signed the birth certificate application and were named as mothers on the birth certificate. When the child was less than a year old, Kylee was arrested after a violent altercation with Linsay, and a “No Contact” order was issued. The order prevented Kylee from seeing the child with the exception of at daycare. Linsay filed for divorce not long after and Kylee asserted in response that Linsay had no legal standing as a parent.
The trial court ruled in Kylee’s favor finding that Linsay was not a legal parent to the child. While Linsay was presumed to be the child’s parent because she and Kylee were married at the time of birth, the presumption was overcome due to the clear and convincing evidence that Linsay was not a biological parent of the child. Additionally, the court found that Linsay failed to establish herself as a legal parent via other legal avenues as well. For example, she did not sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity affidavit nor did she go through the process of legally adopting the child.
The trial court also found that Linsay could not benefit from the Artificial Insemination Act because she failed to sign and file a consent form pursuant to the Act. The fact that Linsay signed the sperm donation agreement as well as the birth certificate application in addition to being the one to inseminate her spouse, being named on the birth certificate, jointly raising the child with her spouse, and holding herself and her spouse out to the world as co-parents were not enough to be considered sufficient consent to assuming the legal rights and responsibilities of a legal parent. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision.
Minnesota Trusts and Estates Attorney
In affirming the decision of the trial court, the Idaho Supreme Court has made the legal rights of all non-biological parents in the state who conceived via sperm donation. This is a dangerous precedent that has been set and may be instructive for other state courts as well. The implications on a family’s structure and the estate planning implications are significant. To protect your rights, be sure to contact a trusted attorney to draft the necessary forms. For estate planning legal documents, you can count on to protect your rights and that of your loved ones, do not hesitate to reach out to Unique Estate Law. Contact us today.