1.17.2013

Center for Global Justice Contributes to Va. Supreme Court Decision

Regent Law’s students and faculty continue to impact some of the most important legal issues of our time.

As part of the Center for Global Justice’s Child Advocacy Practicum, Regent Law students and faculty recently submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the best interests of a child caught in the middle of her parents’ assisted reproduction parentage dispute.

Early this month the Supreme Court of Virginia adopted the concepts set forth in the Center’s brief - and used some of the Center’s research verbatim– in a ruling that will safeguard the best interest of the child.

The Supreme Court of Virginia’s full opinion in the case of L.F. v. Mason v. Breit is available here. The Virginian-Pilot covered the case earlier here.

The Center argued that a child should not be deprived of a parent, in this case her father, when her other parent, in this case her mother, argued that her father was simply a sperm donor rather than an intended parent.

In its decision the Supreme Court of Virginia ultimately recognized that children need a mother and a father, and should be able to know and have a relationship with both parents.

“Children resulting from assisted reproductive techniques (ART) are extremely vulnerable, and absolutely require their parents to protect their interests,” said Regent’s John Brown McCarty Professor of Family Law, Lynne Marie Kohm. “When that doesn’t happen, the child is irreparably harmed. In this case, a court was asked to intervene to remedy this family breakdown, and the Center for Global Justice participated in that litigation. Our work in this area has made a tremendous difference in that child’s life – she will now be able to know her father, as well as her mother.”

The case is significant because it is the first time that any court has recognized a child’s interest in knowing and having a relationship with his or her parents.

Read Professor Kohm’s research on the rights and best interests of children here and here.