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Friends engage in custody battle over surrogacy agreement

The beginning of this story sounds like the start of a movie. Two longtime friends decide to have a baby together when other options to become parents didn't quite work out. One friend donated the sperm and the pair utilized an egg from an anonymous donor to become pregnant. Before conceiving, the two had apparently decided to co-parent the child, with the mother staying home to care for it. After she conceived, the two discussed moving to another state and the father insisted that they put their agreement in writing.

The agreement that the mother eventually signed, prior to the birth of their twins, acknowledged that she was not biologically related to the children and that she had not been paid to carry them. After giving birth, the mother was served with a restraining order and the twins were taken out of her custody. The restraining order states that she is not the mother, but rather a surrogate.

Now the former friends are locked in a legal battle over who has rights to the children. The mother is counter-suing the father, alleging fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a breach of duty.

This case may seem unusual at first glance, but the truth is that many families in Minnesota and around the country are coming together in unconventional ways. The struggle that the mother now faces in obtaining custody or any parental rights to the children also underscores the importance of consulting an attorney before entering into these types of arrangements, even with a friend or someone else that is highly trusted. The unfortunate truth is that people often change their minds or are seeing things in a different way, and that can cause some serious problems like the ones in this case.

Source: Houston Press, "Cindy Close and Marvin McMurrey III: Here's one weird-ass child custody case" Craig Malisow, Sep. 19, 2012

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