In the United States, a child born outside a legal marriage relationship will lose child support and inheritance rights if the fatherhood of the child is not legally established. The father may voluntarily acknowledge paternity in a legal document filed with a court or may agree to have his name listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate. If the man disputes fatherhood, the mother or the state government may initiate a legal proceeding, known as a paternity action, to adjudicate fatherhood.
The common law also established the “marital paternity presumption,” which holds that a child born during a marriage is the offspring of the husband. Therefore, a child born as a result of the wife’s adulterous affair is recognized as a legitimate child of the marriage. This rule recognized that illegitimacy brought social stigma as well as severe economic penalties to a child, including the inability to inherit from the husband of the child’s mother. By establishing a presumption of paternity and therefore legitimacy, the rule promoted family stability and integrity.
In late 2011, Washington State passed a marriage equality bill by popular vote of the people. This cleared the pathway from domestic partnership to full state marriage rights for same-sex couples. As same-sex couple cannot biologically procreate, many same-sex couples turn to medical intervention. These interventions range in complexity, but the nature of the intended relationships remains the same: two adults in a committed intimate relationship wishing to be parents together. The statute is clear that all rights and responsibilities of the previously defined marriage of one man and one woman are now bestowed upon all otherwise eligible persons wishing to enter into marriage, including childrearing. This creates a conundrum for the “paternity” presumption.
The Washington State Department of Health, an administrative agency, manages the records of all births in the state. Consider the following:
- Two women selected anonymous donor sperm from the Pacific Cryobank. The egg of woman 1 was fertilized and implanted into the uterus of woman 2. The pregnancy progressed to full-term and the healthy baby boy was born. The women filled out the vital statistics form, which had a place for mother and father, by entering the name of woman 2 as the mother (having carried the baby) and entering the name of woman 1 in the space labeled father (although the reverse could be equally valid)
- Two weeks later, the women received the certified copy of the birth certificate in the mail from the Department of Health. It read that the mother was named as woman 2, but under father it read, “father not named.”
- The result: Woman 1 has no established legal right or responsibility for this child.
- Your Assignment:
- Research your state’s administrative regulation relating to the reporting of live births and the issuance of birth certificates
- Identify what needs to be changed to accurately record same sex parents
- Identify statutory or regulatory authority allowing the change
- Develop an administrative rule change allowing parents of the same sex to be entered on the birth certificate allowing for legal connections to the child
- The name of the department/agency
- A title
- A brief one-line description of the subject matter
- The effective/start date
- The facts of the new policy
- An analysis of those facts
- Any necessary definitions, and, the most important part,
- The ruling
- Appropriate state code sections and/or law cases (these must be cited in the final ruling)
You may wish to look at www.regulations.gov for examples of final administrative rulings at the federal level.
A well-written ruling should be no longer than 3 to 5 pages.
In addition to fulfilling the specifics of the Assignment, a successful Assignment must also meet the following criteria:
- Length should be 3–5 pages, excluding cover page and references; in 10–12 point font (Arial, Courier, and Times New Roman are acceptable).
- Assignment should follow the conventions of Standard American English (correct grammar, punctuation, etc.).
- Writing should be well ordered, logical and unified, as well as original and insightful
- Your work should display superior content, organization, style, and mechanics
- Appropriate citation style should be followed.