Advances in medical technology have made it easier for all couples to have children. Meanwhile, state laws have lagged behind. Colorado has taken a huge step forward with recent legislation that is intended to protect the parental rights of individuals who use assisted reproductive technology to create their families. In this article, we’ll discuss how House Bill 22-1153, also called Marlo’s Law, changes adoption for parents of assisted reproductive technology.
Talk to an Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorney
If you and your spouse or partner are considering using assisted reproductive technology to have a family, our Family Law Team advises that you explore all your legal options to protect your parental rights. Our family law attorneys can go over your specific situation to make sure you’ll always be able to care for and spend time with your child. To set up your free case assessment, call 303-688-0944.
What is Assisted Reproductive Technology and Who Uses It?
Assisted Reproductive Technology, or ART, is any method to become pregnant other than sexual intercourse. ART is used by single individuals and married couples alike who otherwise could not become pregnant or have a child without it.
Some common methods of Assisted Reproductive Technology include:
- IVF (in-vitro fertilization)
- egg and sperm donation
- genetic surrogacy
- gestational surrogacy
- cryopreserved embryos or gametes
How Marlo’s Law Will Protect Non-Biological Parents
Believe it or not, relying on medical advances and third-party egg and sperm donations to engineer a viable pregnancy used to be the easy part for parents of assisted reproductive technology.
Until recently, Colorado law recognized only naturally-birthed children of a male father and female mother. Because of this, non-biological parents who turned to ART to have a baby could not solely rely on their child’s birth certificate to prove parentage. As such, Colorado lawyers recommended that non-biological parents formally adopt their child born through ART, which created procedural hurdles and added expense. Even then, adoption did not always guarantee those parents full legal protection in future disputes.
Change was needed. So the Colorado legislature got to work, and on May 23, 2022 Governor Jared Polis put his signature on Marlo’s Law.
The bill is named in honor of its co-sponsor’s daughter. House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar and her wife Heather Palm had their daughter, Marlo, through ART.
What is Marlo’s Law?
Officially known as the HB22-1153, this legislation modernizes Colorado’s parentage laws to ensure that:
- rightful parents of ART are no longer denied legal recognition,
- their children are not denied legal protection, and
- families are not deprived of the respect and dignity they deserve.
Much of the bill is dedicated to amending existing revised state statutes that define parentage. Essentially, under Marlo’s law, individuals are defined as parents regardless of how their child is born: naturally or through reproductive assistance and confirmatory adoption.
Gender-specific nouns such as mother and father and husband and wife have been eliminated from the statutes for legal and judicial clarity. This is especially important in cases where non-biological parents’ rights are challenged. The changes also will eliminate strict interpretations of mother and father that in the past have led to unconscionable rulings.
Top Aims of Marlo’s Law
Streamlines Confirmatory Adoptions
Same-sex couples and other nonbiological parents were once faced with two undesirable choices: navigate the pricey and invasive confirmatory adoption process or take their chances and hope to have their name on the child’s birth certificate will offer enough legal protection.
Marlo’s Law makes confirmatory adoptions as easy as filing a basic petition with the child’s birth certificate listing the intended parents. Courts must certify properly-filed petitions within 30 days.
For nonbiological parents, this means no more:
- home visits and inspections
- affidavits confirming the circumstances of the child’s conception
- fingerprinting or FBI background checks
- in-person adoption hearings
- legal expenses
Parents of assisted reproductive technology, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer couples, faced legal discrimination and other barriers under the old statutes. Marlo’s law ensures all parents who conceive through ART, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status, are eligible for the same rights and protections.
What Prospective ART Parents Must Still Consider
While Marlo’s Law enables assisted reproduction parents to bypass several hurdles, it still has its limits.
Colorado Law Only
The legal recognition provided extends only to the state lines. Until a similar law is passed at the Federal level, it is wise to talk to a Family Law attorney before relocating to another state and assuming the same rights and protections will move with you.
Donations Must Still be Legally Obtained
If prospective parents do not go through proper avenues to secure an egg, sperm, or embryo donation that results in the birth of their child, Colorado will not recognize the contract between the parents and donor(s). Colorado also will not give legal cover to improper contracts from another state.
The only way to receive a donation and eliminate any legal threat by the donor is to follow the specific medical and legal route set out in state statutes.
Protect Your Parental Rights. Talk with an ART Attorney
If you are considering assisted reproductive technology to start a family, we encourage you to speak with a family law attorney who specializes in this burgeoning area of law. Our ART attorneys will help you protect your parental rights in the event your relationship does not work out. Call 303-688-0944 to begin your free case assessment. Si gustarÍa hablar con nosotros en español, por favor llámenos al 720-359-2442.