In re M.M.M. & S.H.M.

On June 5, 2015, the Texas Supreme Court issued its notice denying the petition for review of In re M.M.M. & S.H.M., a controversial case from the 14th Court of Appeals. This means, barring a motion for reconsideration or petition for U.S. Supreme Court review, the 14th’s published opinion In re M.M.M. and S.H.M., No. 14-12-01145-CV (Tex.App.–Houston [14th Dist.] Apr. 10, 2014, pet. denied) will stand as final. The case garnered a lot of media attention in 2012. In this case, Appellant Marvin McMurrey III sought a declaratory judgment that Appellee Cindy Close did not have a parental relationship with or standing to pursue rights to the children the subject of the suit. Close was impregnated with McMurrey’s sperm and an unknown donor’s eggs via assisted reproductive technology. McMurrey asserted at trial that Close was merely the surrogate who agreed to carry the children for Mr. McMurrey and his partner, but there was no written agreement. McMurrey and Close disputed what the postpartum plan was. Close stated the plan was for them to co-parent the children, but McMurrey alleged Close had agreed to carry the children but play no further role in the children’s lives after birth. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The trial court (the 247th Judicial District Court of Harris County) found Close was the mother of the children as a matter of law and implicitly denied McMurrey’s request for a declaratory judgment declaring she had no parental relationship to the children.  Under Chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code, a mother-child relationship is established when a woman gives birth to the child. Tex. Fam. Code. sec. 160.201(a)(1). There is no requirement the mother be the genetic parent of the child. McMurrey argued giving birth merely created a presumption of maternity which would be rebutted with genetic evidence, as is the case with paternity under section 160.201(b). To cut to the chase, the Court of Appeals disagreed but the entire opinion is worth a read. The issue of maternity has been quite a saga but hopefully it has met its final conclusion at long last, though it would appear that the remainder of the suit will now resume in trial court, including various torts.

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