Children & the Law Section’s New Blog About LGBT Families’ Rights
Check out Attorney Emily Dudak Taylor and Attorney Kristi Baker on the State Bar of Wisconsin’s new children’s law blog. They write about recent changes to LGBT family law and what cases all attorneys need to know.
Attorney Sara Vanden Brook has been selected to the list of 2017 Wisconsin Rising Stars
The Law Center is very proud to announce that Attorney Sara Vanden Brook has been selected to the list of 2017 Wisconsin Rising Stars by Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters. Sara primarily handles cases that involve child custody, placement, and support, in both divorce and paternity matters. Her other practice areas include juvenile guardianships, grandparents’ rights, foster parents’ rights, international family law, LGBT issues, mediation, and parent coordination.
Proposal Would Eliminate Waiting Period After Divorce
Our divorce attorneys, Alberto Quiroga and Sara Vanden Brook support the proposal to eliminate the waiting period for remarriage after a divorce. For more information see this.
Save the Adoption Tax Credit
House Tax Reform Bill Eliminates the Adoption Tax Credit. As members of the Save the Adoption Tax Credit coalition, The Law Center is strongly opposed to this provision of the tax plan. Call your federal representatives immediately if you agree. See the statement made by Save The Adoption Tax Credit Working Group.
Emily Dudak Taylor to Speak About the Rights of Immigrant Foster Children at Annual CASA Conference
Attorney Emily Dudak Taylor of The Law Center will speak on November 11, 2017 at the Annual Wisconsin CASA Conference in De Pere, Wisconsin. Her presentation will explore how a child’s immigration status can be helped and harmed by private and public child welfare proceedings. She will discuss children’s immigration in general, recent changes under the Trump Administration, the various visas for children including Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (a unique visa for children in the dependency system), as well as international adoption issues. This presentation will also cover common misconceptions about children’s immigration, for example the widespread myth that an adoption by a U.S. citizen automatically makes a child a U.S. citizen. To read more about Emily’s presentation or the conference, click here: 2017 Annual Conference Brochure.
ABA Family Law Section’s Fall Conference
The ABA Family Law Section put on a fabulous Fall Conference this year in Beaver Creek Mountain, Colorado. Attorney Lynn J. Bodi of The Law Center, S.C., had a good time speaking on the surrogacy and health insurance panel. Joining her were colleagues and friends Virginia Hart, Attorney Natalie Kanellis and Meg Ledebuhr (moderator) discussing, “Insurance for ART in a Post-Obama World.” Best of all was the enthusiastic audience.
Domestic Partnership Update
On September 21, 2017, the Wisconsin state budget was signed into law (2017 Wisconsin Act 59). It contains two major changes to Wisconsin’s domestic partnership laws.
1. Statewide Domestic Partnership (Ch. 770)
This domestic partnership registration took effect in 2009 as an alternative to marriage equality. Only same-sex couples were allowed to register. The new law ends this registration program on April 1, 2018. Couples will not be able to register as statewide domestic partners after that date. Couples who have already registered or who register before that date (and have not legally married thereby terminating the domestic partnership), will remain domestic partners and will continue to receive the benefits set forth in Ch. 770 and elsewhere in the statutes
2. ETF Domestic Partnership (Ch. 40)
This domestic partnership registration also took effect in 2009, but was much narrower: it was limited to employees within the ETF system. It allowed same- and different-sex couples to register and gave them marriage-like benefits within the ETF system. The new law makes significant changes to this program, removing some benefits for domestic partners and their dependent children as of January 1, 2018. Examples include health insurance, life insurance, and automatic survivorship benefits for the deferred compensation program. There are supposedly 4,400 couples affected, the majority of whom are different-sex couples. ETF has supposedly contacted these couples by a letter dated October 9, 2017, to inform them of the coming changes. For more information, visit www.etf.wi.gov/publications/domestic-partner-intro.html.
This is general information and does not constitute legal advice. If you would like advice on your specific situation, you may call us at (608) 821-8200 or you may contact the ETF directly at 1-877-533-5020.
California Now Has Third Gender Option
In 2019, Californians will be able to identify themselves as “nonbinary” on driver’s licenses and birth certificates, thanks to a new bill signed into law on Sunday. Not only does the law permit a third gender option, but it also ends a requirement that a physician sign off on a requested change of gender. Right now, Oregon and Washington also allow a third gender option, and New York is considering it. For more information see: https://ww2.kqed.org/futureofyou/2017/10/15/california-third-gender-nonbinary/
Attorney Lynn Bodi Presenting at the American Bar Association Family Law Section Fall Conference
Attorney Lynn Bodi is speaking about surrogacy and health insurance again this Saturday. This time we are proud to say that she will be on a panel at the American Bar Association Family Law Section Fall Conference in Beaver Creek Mountain, Colorado. She joins Virginia Hart and Attorney Natalie Kanellis in discussing, “Insurance for ART in a Post-Obama World.” Good luck, Lynn. Enjoy Colorado. For more information visit the American Bar website.
Attorney Kristi Baker and the History of Special Education Law
Attorney Kristi Baker was recently invited by Professor Tauscia Gonzalez, in the University of Wisconsin Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education, to speak the her class, Individuals with Disabilities, about the history of special education law. Kristi appreciated the opportunity to share her knowledge about the law and to answer questions from future educators and health care workers. They showed her their appreciation with the certificate below.
Do you or someone you know have DACA?
Here is a consumer advisory from AILA, the biggest, best professional association of immigration attorneys. This is the best one out there that I have seen. Share it far and wide. While Congress may act and pass a permanent protection for Dreamers, here is what they need to know right now.
Do We Still Need a Court Order Regarding Our Parental Rights?
Yes, you still need a court order regarding your parental rights and the rights of your child to his or her two parents (via parentage or adoption, discussed below), even if you are married and even if you are both on the birth certificate (as “Mother/Father” or as “Parent/Parent”). The reason is a concept called “portability of judgment.”
Your family needs to be able to travel outside of Wisconsin and know that your joint legal parentage will be respected and recognized. You cannot have that assurance with just a birth certificate. You need a court order to receive Full Faith and Credit under the U.S. Constitution. This is a bitter pill, since different-sex couples are not advised to do the same, but the legal consensus on this issue is wide. The National Center for Lesbian Rights has issued an advisory on this issue of portability.
We feel even more strongly about this recommendation since the U.S. Supreme Court decided the same-sex adoption case of V.L. v. E.L. on March 7, 2016. The issue presented in that case was whether Alabama had to recognize a Georgia adoption by a non-biological parent in a lesbian artificial insemination case. The Court answered yes, that Full Faith and Credit applies to the adoption, and that the adoption and resulting equal parental rights must be recognized by Alabama, even if the state disagrees that same-sex couples should be allowed to be equal legal parents. The short and sweet and unanimous decision in V.L. v. E.L. speaks to the strength of this holding.
We also recommend obtaining a court order not just for geographic portability, but also for portability in time. If a couple rests on a birth certificate, and the legislature changes the law of parentage in the future, ambiguity would result. Only a court order will freeze time and clearly survive changes in the law.
In addition, if your parental rights are ever challenged in court, a court order will provide much stronger protection than just a birth certificate and/or contract or other similar document.
For more information, please see our full explanation.
How to Comply with the Artificial Insemination Statute
After Torres and Pavan, it is clear that a married same-sex couple who complies with the artificial insemination statute is entitled to a parentage order and a two-parent birth certificate. The non-biological parent should be confirmed to be a parent in the order, and the sperm donor should be confirmed to have no parental rights or responsibilities. The following is a CHECKLIST on how to comply with the artificial insemination statute:
- The child must be conceived during the marriage;
- The sperm donor can be known* or anonymous. The statutes does not require that it be anonymous donor sperm from a sperm bank;
- The non-biological parent/spouse must consent in writing to the insemination;
- The insemination must occur under the “general supervision” of a physician, which does not necessarily mean the insemination must be performed by a physician; and
- The physician must certify the date of the insemination, that the insemination took place under their general supervision, and that the signatures of the spouses appear on the certification.
If a married same-sex couple does not satisfy all of these requirements, prior to Pavan the couple would have to complete a so-called step-parent adoption. After Pavan, however, it now appears that the couple should be able to rely on the marital presumption of parentage as a kind of safety net, to confirm the parental rights of the non-biological parent. Step-parent adoption should not be necessary anymore under these types of facts. For more information, please see our full explanation.
* Unless a couple has a strong reason for wanting to use known donor sperm (e.g., it is a close friend or brother), they should consider using anonymous donor sperm from a sperm bank. It is a myth that using known donor sperm will save money. The money you do not pay to a sperm bank will likely go to a lawyer instead for a Sperm Donation Agreement and a termination of parental rights proceeding.
School law attorney Kristi Baker recently attended a meeting at Beloit Turner Middle School where staff shared that the school was moving to standards based-learning rather than traditional grades. This article explores the advantages of Mastery-based learning and why more schools are adopting this method of teaching and evaluating students.
Trump Wants to Limit Legal Immigration
This is a troubling bill. We will watch its progress. Hopefully it has none. A few tenets of the bill already exist in our immigration code, such as ensuring immigrants can support themselves and stay off public assistance. So this bill could be a bit deceptive. No surprise there.
Resources For Transgender Youth (and their families)
More children are self-identifying as transgender, gender fluid or gender non-conforming. The Pediatric and Adolescent Transgender Health (PATH) Clinic at UW Hospital in Madison has identified several support resources for parents and children as they navigate this change.
The IEP Pre-Meeting Checklist
As the summer begins to wind down, many parents of a child with special needs begin to prepare for back-to-school IEP meetings. Here is a great checklist to help parents prepare for the meetings.
Her Madison Half Marathon and 5K
Over the weekend several employees of The Law Center, S.C. participated in the Her Madison Half Marathon and 5k. Congratulations to all the participants! The Her Madison Half Marathon and 5ks supports Girls on the Run and we are proud that so many of our employees chose to participate. We are looking forward to next year.
Grounds for Stripping U.S. Citizenship
Our immigration and naturalization clients will find this interesting.
Congratulations to Lynn and Alberto!
Congratulations to Attorney Lynn Bodi, celebrating 30 years in practice tomorrow, and Attorney Alberto Quiroga, celebrating 16 years in practice this weekend. Lynn and Alberto are shareholders at The Law Center, S.C.
Congratulations Sara and Kristi!
Attorneys Sara Vanden Brook and Kristi Baker have also been awarded membership in the Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society. They each had to provide at least 50 hours of qualifying pro bono (free or reduced fee) legal services to benefit people of limited means.
Sara celebrated her 9th anniversary with The Law Center last week. Her areas of practice include divorce (including international divorce), paternity, child custody, grandparent rights, foster parent rights and Guardian ad litem appointments. Kristi’s areas of practice includes school law, including IEPs and expulsion, child custody, divorce, foster parent rights, guardianship and paternity.
The Law Center now has two attorneys that have been awarded membership in the Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society! Attorney Emily Dudak Taylor was also recently accepted based on her pro bono contributions in 2016. She provided at least 50 hours of qualifying pro bono (free) legal services to benefit people of limited means. Her pro bono work focuses on immigrant children and LGBT families.
Emily has been very busy lately with her new role as Vice President of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) and dealing with immigration emergencies under the new administration. In what free time remains, she enjoys developing her new yoga law practice.
“Our Wisconsin: Equity and Justice for All” Follow-up
This news report is a follow-up to a documentary produced by WKOW last year. The name of that documentary was “Our Wisconsin: Equity and Justice for All” and it explored the racial disparities prevalent in Wisconsin. Attorney Kristi Baker was interviewed in relation to an eight week class that she took through the Justified Anger coalition entitled “Black History for a New Day”. The class explored American and world history through the lens of the African American experience and its purpose is to build white allies for the African American community in Madison.
This One Could Go All the Way Up
This is about the artificial insemination statute, just like our parentage cases. Scary and exciting.
Attorney Alberto Quiroga was recently accepted to Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society based upon his pro bono contributions in 2016. In order to become a member, he had to provide at least 50 hours of qualifying pro bono (free) legal services to benefit people of limited means.
Alberto is a shareholder at The Law Center and is an experienced family law attorney. He is fluent in Spanish. His areas of practice include divorce, paternity, child custody, grandparent and foster parent rights, lemon law and tenants’ rights. He also manages and plays on two baseball teams in the Madison Adult Baseball League.
President Trump’s second travel ban appeal has been decided.
President Trump’s second travel ban appeal has been decided. They ruled that the second travel ban is still unconstitutional, based upon the intent of the travel ban (which was determined from statements made during the campaign) to block Muslims from entering the United States. It is thought that this battle will be taken to the Supreme Court! Find out more here
Adoptions can be expensive, but there are ways to get help with the cost.
Here are some important links if you are considering adoption, but you are worried about the cost:
A free monthly newsletter about adoption loans and grants at: http://www.resources4adoption.com/free-resources/monthly-newsletter.html
Here is information about the charitable trust established by the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA), which provides grants to people trying to grow their families through adoption and assisted reproduction: http://m.adoptionattorneys.org/aaaa/charitable-trust
For information on the Adoption Tax Credit (which may be repealed soon in the new budget) go to: http://www.nacac.org/taxcredit/taxcredit.html
We also recommend checking out the book, “You Can Adopt Without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption,” by Julie Leanna Gumm.
Expulsion Prevention Project
Check out this article in the UW Law School alumni magazine, Gargoyle. We’re proud of our friend, Diane Rondini, who started the StEPP program (Expulsion Prevention Project), a pilot program that provides free legal assistance to students facing expulsion in the Madison Metropolitan School District. Our own Attorney Kristi Baker is one of its specially-trained volunteer attorneys. The program continues to grow, recently expanding into the Milwaukee area.
Special Olympics Regional Track and Field Meet
Attorney Nancy Winter of The Law Center, S.C., coached the Special Olympics Regional Track and Field Meet on May 13, 2017 at Oregon High School. The Oregon Area Special Olympics chapter had the largest of the 27 participating teams, with 25 athletes participating for Oregon. The Oregon Chapter will take 14 athletes to State. The State Meet will take place on June 9 and 10. Good luck to Nancy and all the athletes!
Nancy has been coaching track for the Special Olympics for over 11 years. During college, Nancy was a member of the track and field team at UW-Madison. Her areas of law include life and estate planning, probate, real estate, business law, and tax planning and preparation.
Lynn Bodi is leaving the Board of Trustees and Emily Dudak Taylor is coming onto the Board as Vice President
Attorneys Lynn Bodi and Emily Dudak Taylor just got back from Montreal, where they attended the annual conference of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA), formerly known as the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys (AAARTA). Emily is just starting her term as Vice President and Lynn is ending her term on the Board of Trustees. (Lynn has also served as Vice President.) This organization is very dear to our firm, and we are proud to give our time to its efforts to help children and families around the world. Here are some of our favorite pictures!
Attorney Emily Dudak Taylor has been elected as the Vice President of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys
“I am honored to have been elected yesterday in Montreal as the Vice President of the newly re-named Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (“AAAA”) (formerly known as the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and AAARTA, the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys). Thank you, Deb Guston, for asking me to serve with you. Thank you, everyone in the Academy, for allowing me to do this. And thank you, Lynn J. Bodi, Judy Sperling-Newton, and Carol Gapen, for introducing me to the Academy and teaching me its importance.
I’m thrilled to serve under Deb and to have the opportunity to give back to the Academy. I’m excited to bring my experience with immigrant children and LGBT families to the Academy’s critical work on behalf of children and families around the world.”
-Attorney Emily Dudak Taylor of The Law Center, S.C.
Judge in Kentucky Issued a Blanket Order Saying That He Will Recuse Himself From All Adoption Cases Involving “Homosexual Parties.”
This is awful and sad. The judge also makes any couple seeking divorce appear in front of him to ask them why their marriage failed and if they attend church. We, here at The Law Center, S.C., continue to fight against this type of discrimination.
“A Little-Noticed Target in the House Health Bill: Special Education”
Many of our families who have children with special needs receive medical and support services at their schools as part of their IEPs. This change to Medicaid will affect the amount that schools receive in reimbursements for those services and may have an impact on the services provided to children.
Exciting News About Artificial Wombs
We see a lot of premature babies in our adoption and assisted reproduction practice areas. This could have interesting legal consequences when it becomes possible for human babies ….
Another Executive Order by President Trump is Enjoined in Court
See the article here.
Attorney Alberto Quiroga has been accepted to the Guardian Ad Litem Project of Dane County
This is going to embarrass him, but we can’t help it: Attorney Alberto Quiroga, a shareholder at The Law Center, has been accepted to the Guardian Ad Litem Project of Dane County. The Project is a very well-respected group of family law and children’s law attorneys in Dane County. Guardians ad litem are independent attorneys appointed by the court in family law and children’s law cases to represent just the child’s best interests and make recommendations to the court on how the case should be resolved. We are very proud of Alberto and proud to have him as a partner at the firm.
Alberto is an experienced family law attorney and is fluent in Spanish. He believes that divorce is not about winning or losing, but about finding the best solution for the family as a whole. While he is a litigator at heart, Alberto is also practical and creative at settlement. He tries to avoid emotionally and financially expensive courtroom battles; but if settlement is not an option, he is an aggressive advocate. Alberto is also a business law attorney and has a special interest in lemon law and tenants’ rights. (He is also obsessed with the Grateful Dead and the Cubs. His office looks like a shrine to both.)
Spring Time Means Baseball Time!
The Law Center is a proud supporter of both the East Madison and West Madison Little Leagues. We have some baseball fans here at the firm. Look at the cute little t-shirts and cute little kiddos! Those smiles are why we are in business.
Donate to NCLR and ACLU
Due to the events of the past few months, we wanted to take the time to remind you about a couple of organizations that are important to us here at The Law Center, S.C., and should be important to you too. First, we have the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They bear the cost of protecting two populations that are very important to us: refugees and immigrants and the LGBT community. Another very important organization is the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). They are a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the LGBT community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. We donate to both organizations monthly and think that you should too. Here’s how:
Supreme Court Unanimously Sides with Parents and Students in Two Recent School Law Cases
Here is a summary of two recent school law cases by our school law attorney, Kristi Baker.
Attorney Emily Dudak Taylor and Attorney Lynn Bodi Speaking at the Montreal AAAA Conference
Attorney Emily Dudak Taylor and Attorney Lynn Bodi of The Law Center, S.C., will be speaking at the annual conference of the American Academy of Adoption and ART Attorneys (AAAA) in Montreal this May. Emily will speak about representing fertility clinics, and Lynn will be speak about contract provisions to address religious, personal, or moral objections to surrogacy. For more information about AAAA, please visit: http://www.adoptionattorneys.org/aaaa/home.
Federal Judge Orders South Carolina to List Same-Sex Parents on Birth Certificates
Arkansas said no. Now South Carolina has said yes. And other states have weighed in. This split, even though it is not a split in the federal appellate courts, makes it more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case on this issue. Federal Judge Orders South Carolina to List Same-Sex Parents on Birth Certificates
New Practice Area: Yoga Law!
We are excited to announce that our firm has started a new practice area: Yoga Law! Click here to see what that even means: http://www.lawcenterwisconsin.com/property-business/yoga-law
Here’s the newest Adoption Tax Credit information:
Attorney Lynn Bodi at Atlanta Aquarium with other board members from the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys
Attorney Lynn Bodi just got back from a board meeting in Atlanta for the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. She serves on the board now and has served as Vice President in the past. The board enjoyed this brief moment of free time at the Atlanta Aquarium. We are proud of how involved our attorneys are in the Academy. It is a great organization.
Possible U.S. Supreme Court Case on the Issue of Parentage and Birth Certificates for Children of Same-Sex Couples
We know this needs to happen, but it is so scary.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (FROM THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR LESBIAN RIGHTS):
Shannon Price Minter
Office: 415.392.6257 x310
Deputy Public Relations Manager
Ropes & Gray LLP
NCLR, Ropes & Gray Petition U.S. Supreme Court; Challenge Arkansas Decision Denying Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Both Be Listed on Children’s Birth Certificates
Washington, D.C. (February 15, 2017) – The National Center for Lesbian Rights, together with Ropes & Gray LLP and Arkansas attorney Cheryl Maples, have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review an Arkansas Supreme Court decision denying equal treatment of children born to married same-sex parents. In Pavan v. Smith, the Arkansas Supreme Court prohibited the Arkansas Department of Health from issuing birth certificates that list both spouses as parents when a child is born to a married same-sex couple. The Court held that it is not required to treat married same-sex couples equally to opposite-sex spouses with respect to the right to be listed as parents on their child’s birth certificate.
The Petitioners in the case are two married same-sex couples who each live in Arkansas with children conceived through anonymous donor insemination. When their children were born, each of the couples asked to have both parents listed on the birth certificate, but were denied that right, receiving birth certificates that listed only one parent. Arkansas law states that when a married woman gives birth, her husband must be listed on the birth certificate regardless of whether he is genetically related to the child. Arkansas law also provides that when a married couple uses donor insemination to have a child, both spouses are the child’s legal parents.
The trial court ruled in favor of the two same-sex couples, agreeing that the federal Constitution requires equal treatment of all married couples and ordering the Department of Health to issue birth certificates listing both parents. In December 2016, however, the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed that decision, holding that the State could refuse to place a birth mother’s female spouse on the their child’s birth certificate because she is not a biological parent. Every other court to consider the issue has concluded that Obergefell requires states to issue birth certificates listing both spouses when a child is born to a married same-sex couple.
In the 2015 case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court held that states may not deprive same-sex couples of the fundamental right to marry, including the right to participate in the benefits and responsibilities of marriage to the same extent and on equal terms as opposite-sex couples, including with respect to “birth and death certificates.” As argued in the petition, the ruling of the Arkansas Supreme Court goes against the holding in Obergefell because it denies a benefit of marriage to same-sex couples that is provided to opposite-sex couples.
Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, appellate & Supreme Court partner at Ropes & Gray, argued before the Supreme Court in Obergefell and filed the petition for certiorari in the Pavan. “It is clear that Obergefell confers on married same-sex couples not just some, but all, rights given to married opposite-sex couples as a consequence of their marriage, including the important right to be legally recognized as parents to their children,” said Mr. Hallward-Driemeier.
“If allowed to stand, the Arkansas Supreme Court’s refusal to follow Obergefell will invite officials in other states to do the same,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “Rather than treating married same-sex couples and their children equally, as Obergefell requires, this ruling marginalizes these families and deprives them of the security that marriage is intended to provide. We are asking the Supreme Court to put a stop to this dangerous development and send a clear message to other states that Obergefell meant what it said.”
As the petition for certiorari notes, “To permit states to pick and choose which marital protections married same-sex couples and their children may enjoy, based on the same rationales used to justify their exclusion from marriage in the past, would undermine this Court’s precedent and return these families to a caste-like position of official stigma and disfavor.”
The filed petition is available at http://www.nclrights.org/Pavan.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org
Attorney Emily Dudak Taylor wrote an article in Our Lives
Attorney Emily Dudak Taylor’s article in Our Lives about President-Elect Trump is out. In the article, she answers the question, what can he really do to the LGBT community? What is legally and politically realistic, and what is just rhetoric aimed at voters who don’t know any better? See page 62.