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Guardian ad litem bills gay couple $100K for report questioning surrogacy

by Debra Cassens WeissABA Journal Daily News
July 27th, 2016

A father kisses his baby on the forehead as the baby sleeps on his chest. The father's hand is resting on the baby's back.

A same-sex married couple who hoped to become parents of a third child with the help of a surrogate mother are facing $400,000 in legal expenses after a guardian ad litem questioned the financial arrangement and a judge refused to approve it.

The legal costs include “an astounding” $100,000 billed by the guardian ad litem, according to a columnist writing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The couple, Jay Timmons and Rick Olson, are challenging the $100,000 fee.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that surrogacy agreements are enforceable as long as the arrangement is in a child’s best interest, according to the Journal Sentinel article.

But the guardian ad litem, Mark Knutson, concluded that surrogacy issues are better decided by the legislature. And the judge who appointed Knutson, James Troupis of Dane County, refused to approve the surrogacy, saying the arrangement violates human trafficking laws.

The guardian ad litem had hired an associate from his law firm to assist in the case. The associate, Erik Krueger, was a graduate of Liberty University’s law school and the author of an article for its law review that denounced same-sex marriage as contradicting God’s law.

Knutson’s report said it was in the baby’s best interests for Timmons and Olson to become his parents. But the report criticized the money the couple paid to the surrogate mother, the surrogate agency and their lawyers. The legislature, rather than the courts, should answer questions about what it means to be a parent, Knutson’s report said.

Troupis was even more critical. According to the Milwaukee Journal’s account of the 21-page decision, “Troupis adopted often-polemical language to criticize surrogacy, even though it’s not illegal under state law. He referred to the surrogate mother as a ‘womb,’ labeled the frozen embryo a ‘child’ and said the two fathers were seeking ‘ownership’ of the child.”

Troupis has since resigned. Another judge vacated Troupis’ decision, calling it “unduly harsh” and “weird.”

Timmons wrote about the “unfathomable emotional distress” caused by the case in this opinion piece.

Image via Wikipedia/Kiefer.Wolfowitz

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