Family Law Decisions: Decided

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In a decision that was bound to be controversial regardless of the result, a Missouri appeals court ruled that the frozen embryos of a divorced couple are not people, and refused to grant custody of the embryos to either spouse. While this result may seem completely logical, it is seemingly at odds with Missouri law. In Missouri, pretty much any time after conception, an unborn child is considered a human being with protectable rights. The dissenting judge's opinion highlights the decisions conflict with Missouri law.

The case involved a divorce couple that had a few embryos frozen prior to their divorce. After the divorce, the former wife wanted to use the embryos, while the former husband wanted to either donate the embryos to a third party or have them destroyed. The judge basically blocked either from being able to get want they want by ruling that both former spouses had to consent to how and by whom the embryos could be used.

A recent Ninth Circuit decision requires all crisis pregnancy centers to distribute information about publicly funded contraception and abortion services. This is not welcome news for pro-life groups. California's Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act went into effect on January 1st, 2016 and requires that pregnancy centers and clinics provide a notice to their patients about the available, publicly funded, prenatal, abortion and family planning services.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, a pro-life organization, and two other groups, challenged the act's constitutionality and sought a preliminary injunction exempting them from posting the required-by-law notifications. After the lower court rejected and dismissed their claims, they appealed. The 9th Circuit upheld the act in a decision published last Friday.

The US Supreme Court this week issued an order granting full faith and credit to a lesbian adoption that took place in Georgia and that the Alabama Supreme Court refused to recognize. The unanimous order reversing the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling is considered a big win for same-sex adoption, according to Slate.

The case is called VL v. EL, and it is about VL seeking visitation with children that EL bore and that VL adopted in Georgia. The couple did not marry but raised the children together for 17 years. When they broke up, EL refused to allow VL visitation, and for a long time the Alabama courts agreed.

How much is a life worth? Or, more accurately, how much is a donor egg that could begin a life worth? For more than a decade, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has set the price guidelines for donor eggs, suggesting that donated human eggs should not be sold for more than $5,000 without justification, and that a $10,000 price tag was "beyond what is appropriate."

Unsurprisingly, the women donating or selling their eggs weren't pleased with the price caps, and filed an antitrust lawsuit against ASRM, alleging the suggested prices amounted to illegal price fixing. And this week, ASRM settled the case, and agreed to remove the language from its guidelines.

The California Supreme Court ruled that couples must be living apart before they can be considered legally separated.

Whether going through a divorce or choosing a legal separation instead of a divorce, the new definition can have a huge impact on each spouse's property and finances. The court attempted to simplify matters by creating a bright-line rule based on the establishment of individual residences as creating a legal separation.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of a controversial abortion restriction after a lower court struck down the law.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that North Carolina's mandate that doctors take ultrasounds and describe the image to women prior to abortions was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court decided not to review that ruling, and did not comment on their decision.

Everybody in New Mexico must report suspected child abuse and neglect, the state's highest court has ruled.

In an opinion released Monday, New Mexico's Supreme Court clarified that the state's mandatory child-abuse reporting requirements applied to all residents of the state, not just to certain publicly employed professionals.

New Mexico already has a law requiring everybody to report child abuse. So why was this ruling necessary?

Birthing Moms Can Kick Dads Out of Delivery Room: N.J. Court

In the first ever ruling of its kind, a New Jersey judge ruled that a woman in labor has the right to ban an unwed father from the delivery room.

The case -- argued the day the mother went into labor (!) -- stemmed from an estranged couple who called off their wedding prior to the birth of their child. Steven Plotnick sued his ex-fiancée Rebecca DeLuccia for the right to know when she went into labor and for access to the baby upon its birth, The Star-Ledger reports.

Though the child has since been born (in case you're wondering: pops was present at the birth), Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed ruled in favor of the mother.

Gay Dad's Partner Can Cohabitate When Son Visits: Ark. High Court

An Arkansas man can have his gay partner and son under the same roof after the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed a prior court order.

Little Rock's KTHV-TV reports that Arkansas' highest court reversed an earlier court decision barring John Moix from having his same-sex partner in the home when Moix's son had an overnight visit.

This case is a victory for many gay parents who have been barred by their ex-spouses from having their children and new partners in one place.

Girl in Foster Care Not 'Mature' Enough to Get Abortion: Court

The Nebraska Supreme Court rejected the abortion request of a 16-year-old girl in foster care, ruling the girl was not mature enough to make the decision herself.

The case highlights some of the major concerns surrounding Nebraska's abortion consent laws.