UK High Court awarded woman damages for surrogacy following missed cervical cancer diagnosis

In a legal first, the UK High Court has awarded costs of £74,000 to a woman for surrogacy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies.

This first of its kind award from a UK High Court formed part of an overall damages award of £580,600.

As a result of a delayed diagnosis, the claimant developed invasive cancer of the cervix and required chemo-radiotherapy treatment.  This treatment rendered her infertile and caused severe damage to her bladder, bowel and vagina.  The late diagnosis meant she was unable to undergo fertility sparing surgery, which would otherwise have been available to her. The claimant, then 29, had always wanted a large family and postponed urgent cancer treatment twice for alternative medical opinions.  She also underwent a cycle of ovarian stimulation and harvested and froze 12 eggs before undergoing surgery and chemo-radiotherapy. The Defendant admitted liability and the case focused on the level of damages to be awarded to the Claimant.UK high court

Women awarded damages for surrogacy following missed cervical cancer diagnosis

In a legal first, the English High Court has awarded costs of £74,000 to a woman for surrogacy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies. This first of its kind award formed part of an overall damages award of £580,600.

Michaelmores Blog by By Louisa Ghevaert

As a result of a delayed diagnosis, the claimant developed invasive cancer of the cervix and required chemo-radiotherapy treatment.  This treatment rendered her infertile and caused severe damage to her bladder, bowel and vagina.  The late diagnosis meant she was unable to undergo fertility sparing surgery, which would otherwise have been available to her. The claimant, then 29, had always wanted a large family and postponed urgent cancer treatment twice for alternative medical opinions.  She also underwent a cycle of ovarian stimulation and harvested and froze 12 eggs before undergoing surgery and chemo-radiotherapy. The Defendant admitted liability and the case focused on the level of damages to be awarded to the Claimant.

In giving judgment Sir Robert Nelson allowed the claim for the cost of two surrogacies in the UK but rejected the claim in respect of costs for surrogacy in California on UK public policy grounds.  He also rejected a claim for the cost of donor eggs saying this was not truly restorative of the claimant’s loss.

Louisa Ghevaert, Head of the Fertility and Parenting team at Michelmores, provided expert evidence in this case.  In doing so, Louisa expressed the view that surrogacy law in the UK is “due for reform as life has moved on”.  In relation to that evidence Sir Robert Nelson stated:

“… Ms Ghevaert may be right in saying that attitudes have changed and are indeed changing in relation to surrogacy but such change must be brought about by the Law Commission and Parliament, or perhaps the Supreme Court.”

Michelmores Blog by By Louisa Ghevaert, September 19, 2017

Click here to read the entire blog.

Utah couple heads to state Supreme Court over law that prevents married gay men from having biological children through surrogacy

Jon and Noel started talking about having a family not long after they married in 2013.

An author and a professor who have been together more than a decade, the couple considered adoption, but settled on surrogacy out of a strong desire to have a biological child.more gay couples are embracing surrogacy

That plan was derailed last year when a southern Utah judge denied their petition to enter a surrogacy agreement with a woman who wanted to help make their family complete.

Jon and Noel started talking about having a family not long after they married in 2013.

An author and a professor who have been together more than a decade, the couple considered adoption, but settled on surrogacy out of a strong desire to have a biological child.

That plan was derailed last year when a southern Utah judge denied their petition to enter a surrogacy agreement with a woman who wanted to help make their family complete.

The Salt Lake Tribune – by Jennifer Dobner

September 13, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Israeli government ends opposition to same-sex adoption

The Israeli government on Tuesday formally ended its opposition to adoption rights for same-sex couples.

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, cited media reports that indicate the Israeli Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services told the State Attorney’s Office “it has no objection to the practice.”

Same-sex couples in Israel are able to adopt children, but Haaretz reports they can “only adopt children for whom no adoptive heterosexual married couple can be found.” The newspaper notes gay and lesbian couples must wait longer to adopt than those who are heterosexual and Israeli law considers adoptive parents who are of the same sex “individual adoptive parents.”Israel Surrogacy

The Association of Israeli Gay Fathers and the Israel Religious Action Center challenged the law in a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court it filed against the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit. Haaretz last month reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in a brief said, “it has been decided by the professional bodies in the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry not to act at the present time to change the existing law.”

Haaretz on Tuesday reported the ministry’s new adoption criteria “will address the potential parents’ suitability for a given child, regardless of sexual orientation.” The Knesset has to formally act on amending the country’s adoption law in order for the proposed regulations to take effect.

“By acknowledging that same-sex couples are able to be parents and adopt, the Ministry of Social Services has straighten line (sic) with experts and the Israeli public,” Chen Arieli, chair of the Aguda, the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, told the Washington Blade in a statement. “Now it’s time for members of the Knesset to do their part, and we expect them to change the law as soon as possible.”

by Michael Lavers – washingtonblade.com, August 30. 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Best Interests of the Child – Evolving Family Law

Best Interests of the Child – In this next installment of the Columbia Teachers College series on professionals working within the LGBT community, I have the privilege of discussing dome of the recent case law that affects our families and we, as professionals, can better educate the circles in which we work.

 Family courts focus appropriately on the best interests of the child when attempting to determine such issues as custody and visitation in disputed matters.  This essential premise should inform their decision making processes.best interests of the child

Columbia Teachers College has created a series of videos for students who want to work with the LGBT community. I am privileged to have been featured as a mentor and to be able to tell my story. This video discusses the current law in New York, recent changes that have had an immeasurable impact on LGBT families and how the best interests of the child are paramount to a court’s adjudication of an issue.

There is no written “standard” for a best interests analysis. A judge will rely on several factors including,  familial stability, mental and physical health of the parents, drug or alcohol abuse, primary caretaker role, the ability of the parents to get along with one another and, depending on the child’s age, what the child believes is in their best interest.  The health and safety of the child are always the utmost consideration.  

I hope that you enjoy watching this video and, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me through the contact form below.

timeforfamilies.com

 

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Chilean president introduces same-sex marriage, adoption bill

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Monday introduced a bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples.

Ronaldo Jiménez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, is among those who attended the announcement that took place at the presidential palace in the country’s capital of Santiago. Nicolás Levy, the Washington Blade’s correspondent in Chile, was also in attendance.

“The president begins the act of signing a marriage equality bill,” said Jiménez in a tweet that included a picture of Bachelet at the ceremony. “That’s how we like Chile.”

Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions in the South American country since October 2015.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in 2012 filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of three same-sex couples who are seeking marriage rights in the South American country. Bachelet’s government agreed to introduce a marriage and adoption bill as part of an agreement it reached with the group in June 2016.

by Mike Lavers, Washingtonblade.com, August 28, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Estate Planning for Dummies – The Important Steps You May Have Already Taken

Estate Planning for Dummies explains the most basic estate planning tools, many of which you may have already implemented without even knowing it.

Estate planning for dummies is a misnomer.  Because the premise of this article is that you may have sufficient estate planning in place, you are clearly not dummies.  But understanding how to make the most of your estate plan, will ensure that you and your family are protected in case the unforeseen occurs.

Do I need a Will?”  This is usually the first question asked by clients.  The short answer is yes and, to better understand why, it is important to know the protections that a Will provides.  A Last Will and Testament is the cornerstone to a comprehensive estate plan.  Whether you have children or not you do have assets.  Depending on their size, more complex planning may be required.  But the key to knowing whether you have unwittingly begun work on your estate plan, you must know what property passes under a Will.estate planning basics

Probate Asset v. Non-Probate Assets

Wills cover probate assets, or assets held solely in your name. Examples include real property, bank accounts and personal belongings. Personal belongings are key because many people do not like the idea of a distant relative rooting through their most cherished items after death. Wills do not pass non-probate assets, or assets held jointly with someone else (like a bank account or real property held as a married couple or as joint tenants), assets held in trust for someone else or any asset that has a designated beneficiary, like an insurance policy, a 401(k) or an IRA retirement plan.

The goal of a good estate plan for a married couple is to maximize you non-probate asset designations.  If done correctly, there will be no need for a probate process upon the death of the first spouse.  Probate is the process by which the state of a decedent ensures that their Last Will and Testament was drafted and executed correctly, that the assets and debts of the decedent, the person who died, are identified, that the debts are paid and the assets are distributed according the decedent’s Will. The New York probate process governs the transfer of legal title of property from the estate of the person who has died to those named in that person’s Last Will and Testament.

If you are married and your home is listed in both spouses’ names, then the house will pass automatically to the surviving spouse with no need for probate.  Likewise, if you have joint bank accounts, the assets in those accounts pass outside of probate.

right of survivorship, JTWROS, joint tenantsMany city couples rent their apartments, making their most valuable assets their investment or retirement accounts.  For these investment vehicles, you may name your spouse, or partner if you are unmarried, as a designated beneficiary.  You may also name multiple designated beneficiaries as long as the percentage allocations are clear to the administrator of the investment/retirement account.

Estate planning for dummies = the maximization of non-probate asset designations.  It is the best tool you have to avoid probate.  And while this type of specific planning may allay the need for a Will, it is always a good idea to have a Will in place, even if you do not need to put that Will through probate.  If you are unmarried, it is of particular importance that you have a Will because the protections of marriage, which include naming the surviving spouse as the default beneficiary of a decedent’s assets, will not apply to you and your partner.

For more information, visit www.timeforfamilies.com or email Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

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Trump just eviscerated his claim to being an LGBT ally

Things could have been worse for the gay rights community under a Republican president. President Trump tried to court them during the campaign, and he seemed to go out of his way to avoid limiting their rights when he signed an executive order underscoring religious freedom.

That dynamic changed drastically Wednesday. Trump announced on Twitter an unequivocal ban on transgender people serving in the military, reversing a groundbreaking decision set in motion by the Obama administration.

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

 

….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..

….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

It’s a major attack by the president on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and advocates say it’s a big one. While the White House says the intent is to improve military readiness and is not based in politics, the message the LGBT community is hearing from the president is this: Transgender people are other, are different, are too costly to be treated like the rest of America.

The Trump administration had already revoked federal guidelines on transgender student rights in February. If anyone in the gay community still held out hope that Trump would live up to his pro-LGBT campaign rhetoric (and not-as-anti-LGBT presidency), Trump just eviscerated that.

President Trump is most pro-LGBTQ rights @POTUS in history. Why’s that story not written in mainstream media? http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/31/white-house-tries-calm-fears-gay-rights-rollback/ 

Photo published for White House tries to calm fears of a gay-rights rollback
That optimism will be hard to square now. 

“There is no gloss, no makeup, no lipstick on any of this,” said Bob Witeck, a Washington-based consultant to businesses and nonprofit organizations on LGBT issues. “This is a full-frontal attack.”

It’s also a politically potent one. Transgender policy is the tip of the spear in the gay rights battle.

North Carolina became a national battlefield in 2016 for limiting what public restrooms transgender people can use. Texas is in the process of trying to pass a similar law. Closing the door on transgender people is akin to closing the door on the entire LGBT community, Witeck said.

Trump’s action Wednesday is an about-face from his repeated and off-brand-for-Republicans attempts to reach out to the community during the campaign.

Washington Post by Amber Phillips, July 26, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Czech Republic Constitutional Court Recognizes Same-Sex Couple’s Parenthood

The Czech Republic Constitutional Court decided on 24 July 2017 in a landmark ruling to recognize a same-sex couple’s parenthood which was already valid in a foreign country.

The decision is about a Czech and a Dane who were married in the USA and raise two children by surrogate mother. California laws consider both men parents since the children’s births, and both men’s names are in the California birth certificate. The parents have been trying to get both their names, not just one, written in the Czech birth certificate, a move the Czech Supreme Court has rejected in the past, claiming it would go against the public order. The Constitutional Court’s ruling today gives both partners, who have been raising together the children ever since they were born, the hope that their rights and obligations towards the children will be recognized in the Czech Republic, as well, and that the children will be entitled to receive care from both parents.Czech Republic

“We are happy that the Constitutional Court decided in our favor. We hope that we will soon be able to obtain Czech birth certificates for our children, and both our names will be on them, as parents. We will be less afraid of all the complications that might occur during our visits to my family in the Czech Republic, or in case we decide to move to the Czech Republic”, said Jiří Ambrož, the Czech father of the two children.

Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court, however, only applies to parenthood originating abroadGays and lesbians in the Czech Republic are still unable to adopt children as a couple, nor can one of them adopt the partner’s child. Today’s ruling therefore leaves the gay and lesbian parents in a half-way position. It is the same situation as in the case of last year’s ruling by the Constitutional Court, which repealed the ban for a person living in `registered partnership` to adopt children individually, but did not make possible joint adoptions by the two partners. Moreover, today’s decision to recognize parenthood originating abroad does not apply to surrogate parenthood in the Czech Republic, something that exists, but is not regulated by specific laws. The Czech state is thus spinelessly ignoring the needs and legal certainties not only of a considerable number of children growing up in the families of same-sex couples, but also of the children born to heterosexual couples by surrogate mothers.

Surrogate motherhood

Substitute or surrogate motherhood is a procedure where the biological parent’s embryo is carried and delivered by a substitute mother. She gives birth to the child and then give up her parenthood rights. This service is used by childless heterosexual couples, but also by gay couples who use an ovule from a donor. While in many Western countries this substitute motherhood is a regulated procedure, with licensed agencies, in the Czech Republic surrogate motherhood is kept in a ‘gray’ legal area.international surrogacy

The case of Jiří Ambrož’s family –background

Jiří Ambrož and his husband have two children, a 5 year-old daughter and a 4 year-old son. Founding his claim on the principle that a child born to a Czech citizen, or adopted by such a citizen becomes a Czech citizen, the Czech father of the two children asked the Czech population register office (“matrika”) to register the two children, issue them a Czech birth certificate and confirm their state citizenship.

In the case of the young boy, the Supreme Court recognized the Czech citizen’s parenthood. The boy was therefore registered by the Czech population office and has a Czech birth certificate and a confirmation that he is a Czech citizen, but in those papers there is just one parent name. The application for the registration of the second parent was rejected by the Supreme Court because it would go against the public order, since the Czech law does not allow two people of the same sex to jointly adopt children. The Supreme Court identified in that reality a fundament of the Czech law, which it said should be observed. The two parents and their legal representatives decided therefore to file a constitutional complaint.

Press release from www.praguepride.cz – July 24, 2017

Click here to read the entire press release.

Tennessee judge rules gay couples have equal parental rights

Same-sex couples in Tennessee have the same rights as heterosexual couples who have children born through artificial insemination, a judge ruled.

Four married lesbian couples sued after the state passed a law that requires using the “natural and ordinary meaning” of words in state law. Gay rights groups said the requirement was a sneaky way to deny same-sex couples the legal rights and protections granted to a “husband,” a “wife,” a “father” or “mother.”

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle’s dismissed the couples’ lawsuit on Friday, saying they didn’t prove their rights had been violated, The Tennessean reported . Each of the four couples has conceived a child using a sperm donor and the first baby is not expected until September.Tennessee

Still, the couples heralded the ruling as a victory because it will give them equal parental rights when the children are born.

“We have a Tennessee court order saying same-sex couples are to be treated the same as opposite-sex couples,” said attorney Julia Tate-Keith, who represented the couples.

The decision comes about a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex couples who believed an Arkansas law discriminated against them. Under that law, married lesbian couples had to get a court order to have both spouses listed as parents on their children’s birth certificates.

In previous court filings, Attorney General Herbert Slatery had argued that the new Tennessee law actually does “nothing new at all.”

The new law should be considered alongside a more-specific state law requiring gender-specific words to be interpreted as inclusive, a filing by the state said. Previously, Slatery issued an opinion that said a judge would likely side with the state law requiring gender-inclusive interpretations.

Fox17.com via Associated Press, July 25, 2017

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German President OKs Gay Marriage Law, Takes Effect in Fall

Germany’s president has signed legislation legalizing gay marriage, his office said Friday, paving the way for the bill to take effect this fall. 

BERLIN — Lawmakers approved the bill on June 30 in parliament’s last session before Germany’s September election. The move became possible after Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose conservative party had long been reluctant to budge on the issue, said she would allow its lawmakers to vote according to their conscience.Germany

The presidential office said President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed the legislation on Thursday. That means it will come into force Oct. 1 at the earliest. 

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but until now has not granted them full marital rights including the possibility of jointly adopting children. The change brings it into line with many other western European countries.

NBCNews.com via Associated Press – July 21, 2017

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