Eric S. Neumann, APLC
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Louisiana's complicated paternity laws

Louisiana's paternity laws are outdated, complex and provide inequities in matters such as child custody. Recently-introduced legislation may correct some problems, but may not fully address other issues.

Under current state law, the man who is married to the woman giving birth must be listed on the birth certificate even of he is not the biological father. However, another man who signs the birth certificate for his girlfriend's baby, even if he is not the father, may be legally engaged in fraud even if the baby was conceived by donor sperm and in vitro fertilization.

One state representative is trying to address a similar situation through legislation. In that case, a man's now former girlfriend conceived a baby with a donor sperm and in vitro fertilization. The man signed the birth certificate as the baby's father, even though he is unable to have children.

The couple split up after the baby's birth. In accordance with Louisiana's law, she tried to remove his name from the birth certificate and claimed that it was placed there fraudulently because the man is not the biological father. The case is currently before the Orleans Parish court.

The state representative, who is a friend of the man in this case, introduced a bill that sets some rules for fathers whose partners conceived a child through IVF. If enacted, the bill would require fathers to file paperwork with the birth of a child conceived through IVF claiming that the child is theirs. The documents would be referred to as an authentic act of acknowledgment.

Critics claim that this requirement would also govern married parents. The bill, as currently drafted, protects male same-sex and heterosexual couples, but provides no protections for female same-sex couple.

Regardless, current law needs changes. The father's rights to parenting are not protected. The child loses protection because a similarly-situated father could leave and pay no child support. Given these problems, Louisiana law has not kept pace with the technology that makes sperm donation and IVF possible.

Source: The Times- Picayune, "Families are complicated. Louisiana law should catch up," Chelsea Brasted, March 14, 2018

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