The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) formed the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA). The process began in the early 1970s. The purpose was to remove the stigma of illegitimacy regarding children and their paternity rights. Another core principle of this law was to “ensure that all children and all parents have equal rights concerning each other, regardless of the marital status of the parents,” according to the American Bar Association.

The UPA was modified by the ULC several times. For example, in 2002, they introduced genetic testing and specified the rules for parentage or children conceived with assisted reproductive methods or techniques. Lastly, it permitted surrogacy agreements and a paternity registry.

What Are Some Changes That Occurred With UPA in 2017?

The American Bar Association points to five significant changes that happened in 2017. The first change created provisions for equal treatment of same-sex couples. It allowed fair treatment of children that are born to same-sex couples. These changes included broadening the presumption, acknowledgment, genetic testing and assisted reproduction articles to ensure gender neutrality.

Furthermore, these provisions would take effect immediately in states that enacted UPA 2017. For instance, if an unmarried gay couple has a child through assisted reproduction consistent with the law, both individuals will be legal parents of the child. Moreover, they will be able to sign an acknowledgment of parentage. Moreover, the process protects these families if they travel or move to different states. Regardless of their status, their children must be treated equally.

The second change occurred when establishing a de facto parent as a legal parent of a child. Many states acknowledge that people who act as the child’s parents will indeed have some parental rights. These people don’t need to be related to them through marriage or biology. These doctrines of de facto parents may vary depending on which state you reside in.

These parentage laws can also be applied through third-party standing statutes. Specifically, the legal language states that “ an individual who has functioned as a child’s parent for a significant period and formed a bonded and dependent parent-child relationship may be recognized as a legal parent,” as the American Bar Association discusses this issue.

The courts will determine each situation based on the facts presented in the case. There is no specific period that the individual must serve as a parent. For instance, there may be variations to the time frame depending on the child’s age.

However, an important aspect is that this must not be established based on involuntary parentage. The “parent” cannot force the child to consider them their de facto parents. As mentioned earlier, all circumstances are unique, and the courts will decide what is appropriate based on the child’s best interests standard.

Besides provisions being added to UPA, there were also certain exclusions. The third change to the law precluded the establishment of a parent-child relationship by the perpetrator of a sexual assault that resulted in the child’s conception. The mother can request a termination of parental rights if the baby results from rape. States nationwide implemented this variation to bar rapists from obtaining any rights for being the legal father. The courts will consider each case and grant the termination of rights based on clear and convincing evidence of rape.

Although the court can rule to terminate the parental rights of a rapist, they may still require them to pay child support and any other birth-related costs. Therefore, as a mother, you have the right to seek child support from the legal father, which is enforceable nationwide. Child support is an important legal, financial obligation for the parent until the child reaches maturity.

Another addition of UPA 2017 is that it rewrites the surrogacy clauses. Since surrogacy is still a developing area of law, it is important to create safeguards that protect all parties’ legal rights. It is highly recommended that all parties seek independent legal counsel for their case. Surrogacy involves extremely sensitive issues; in these cases, rights can be easily infringed.

Therefore, understanding the implications of surrogacy in your life and how it will impact you is crucial. All states have strict requirements for surrogacy, and there are contracts in place for these procedures. Now more families are seeking alternative methods of having children. Surrogacy offers couples a path to grow their families, no matter their obstacles.

Moreover, the UPA 2017 now allows genetic surrogacy, in which the woman acting as a surrogate is also the child’s genetic parent. This approach is considered less expensive and consists of fewer invasive medical procedures. However, there are other legal and emotional risks for the parties. The Act now covers additional requirements for genetic surrogacy.

For instance, a court review of the contract must be reviewed before initiating any medical procedures. Moreover, the woman has a waiting period to act as a surrogate once the child is born. These safeguards are there to protect all the parties and ensure that no legal rights are jeopardized.

Finally, UPA 2017 now provides the right to children conceived through assisted reproductive technology to access medical and identifying information related to any gamete providers. Based on recent data, more couples that cannot conceive or are same-sex couples are utilizing these alternative techniques to grow their families, as mentioned earlier. The number keeps increasing, and the law must continue to address these important issues that relate to basic parental and children rights,

This battle is comparable to how the adopted children fought similarly to gain access to their birth parents. Similarly, a generation of children conceived through assisted reproductive technology will have claims to access information related to their gamete donors.

The main distinction is that the Act does not require disclosure of the identity of a gamete donor, but it does mandate that the gamete banks and fertility clinics ask donors if they want their identifying information available when the child reaches the age of maturity. It further mandates disclosure of the non-identifying medical history of the gamete donor, as discussed by the American Bar Association.

What Does the Future Hold for UPA and Paternity?

The ULC is a unique organization that allows drafts on various subjects that need a change in the state legislatures throughout the country. They want to form uniform laws that can be enforced throughout the states. The children have the right to know who their legal and biological parents are. Having access to these laws allows them to fight for these rights. Paternity is personal and carries a heavy weight.

Therefore, if the methods of conceiving children have changed, so must the law to protect these children and allow them the same rights as everyone else. The UPA is a platform they can utilize to achieve these goals.

When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?

If you have any questions regarding paternity or your rights, do not hesitate to contact a local paternity lawyer to assist you with the process. UPA has transformed drastically to suit the needs of society. It will continue to change based on people’s lifestyle choices to grow their families. Your lawyer can provide you with the guidance and representation needed for your particular situation.