Glover v. Junior, 2023 Pa. Super. LEXIS 598 (December 11, 2023).
Judges: BEFORE: PANELLA, P.J., BOWES, J., OLSON, J., DUBOW, J., KUNSELMAN, J., MURRAY, J., McLAUGHLIN, J., KING, J., and McCAFFERY, J. OPINION BY BOWES, J. Judges Olson, Dubow, Kunselman, McLaughlin, and McCaffery joined this Opinion. P.J. Panella and Judge Murray concurred in the result. Judge King filed a Concurring Opinion in which P.J. Panella and Judge Murray join.
Opinion by: BOWES.
Chanel Glover appealed from the domestic relations court order granting Nicole Junior’s petition for pre-birth establishment of parentage of the child that the married couple conceived through in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) treatment during their marriage. Glover challenges the trial court’s finding that her spouse had a contract-based right to parentage. For the following reasons, we affirm.
Junior and Glover met during 2019 and married in January 2021 while living in California. Even prior to the marriage, the couple discussed starting a family through IVF. In February 2021, the couple entered into an agreement with Fairfax Cryobank for donated sperm. Glover is listed as the “Intended Parent” and Junior the “co-intended Parent.” In accordance with the Fairfax Cryobank contract, the couple collectively selected a sperm donor from Fairfax Cryobank based specifically on the donor’s physical appearance, interests, and area of origin.
Over the ensuing four months, the couple’s relationship deteriorated. Junior announced an intent to move from the marital residence when the lease expired. Glover stopped communicating with Junior about the obstetrics appointments and canceled mutually-scheduled events such as the baby shower. In March 2022, Glover informed her spouse that she no longer intended to proceed with the adoption, and on April 18, 2022, Glover filed a divorce complaint.
Two weeks later, Junior filed at the domestic relations docket assigned to the divorce proceedings the petitions for pre-birth establishment of parentage that are the genesis of the matter at issue in this appeal. Following Glover’s responses and an evidentiary hearing, the trial court found that Junior had a contractual right to parentage and granted the petitions.
Whether individuals can enter into an enforceable agreement to determine parentage and parental rights involves a legal question that we reviewed de novo. Ferguson v. McKiernan, 596 Pa. 78, 940 A.2d 1236 1242 (Pa. 2007) (holding that appellate courts employ de novo review of pure question of law concerning whether would-be mother and willing sperm donor can enter into an enforceable agreement to delineate parental rights and obligations). Our scope of review is plenary. Id.
The trial court concluded that Junior was a legal parent based upon principles of contract law. Glover urged the Court to reach the opposite position by attempting to distinguish the facts of her case from the circumstances involved in the three cases that the trial court relied upon in fashioning Junior’s contractual rights to parentage: C.G. v. J.H., supra; Ferguson, supra; and In Re Baby S., 2015 PA Super 244, 128 A.3d 296 (Pa.Super 2015).
In addition to affirming the trial court order establishing Junior’s parentage based on contract principles, the Court affirmed based upon application of the principles of intent-based parentage that the concurring justices highlighted in C.G. Stated plainly, this appeal is the paradigm of intent-based parentage in cases involving ART, where the couple not only evidenced their mutual intent to conceive and raise the child, but they also participated jointly in the process of creating a new life.
Judges Olson, Dubow, Kunselman, McLaughlin, and McCaffery joined this Opinion.
P.J. Panella and Judge Murray concurred in the result.
Judge King filed a Concurring Opinion in which P.J. Panella and Judge Murray joined.