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TV host in cutting-edge child custody agreement

In a twist on the usual celebrity child custody divorce story, a television show host recently revealed that he and his husband of 10 years are splitting up, and that their temporary custody agreement would separate their twin children, with one going to each of the two men.

David Tureta, a host of the show "My Fair Wedding," said that he and husband Ryan Jurica conceived the children, a boy and a girl, through in vitro fertilization with a surrogate mother. While the twins were born from the same woman, each has a different biological father. Tureta is the biological father of the girl, while Jurica is father to the boy.

Under the terms of their agreement, Tureta will have custody of his daughter and Jurica will have custody of his son. Tureta said on a television talk show that he wants the twins to have a relationship with each other, but would not say when he would allow that to happen.

The case illustrates some of the most cutting-edge areas in family law. First, there is same-sex divorce. New York legalized same-sex marriage just over two years ago, and its legal processes for same-sex divorce are not yet fully formed. (However, the Supreme Court's dismantling of the federal Defense of Marriage Act earlier this summer should do a lot to make same-sex divorce in New York equal to heterosexual divorce.)

Secondly, there is the question of child custody in a world of advanced fertility techniques such as in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood. Typically, the parents and the surrogate mother sign a surrogacy agreement in which the surrogate mother agrees to give up her custody rights. Each state has its own laws on these agreements, with several states prohibiting them. New York allows surrogacy agreements, but with some limitations.

The fact that the parents and surrogates have come up with their own agreements about custody does not necessarily mean that they can take care of all child custody questions themselves. New York courts decide all child custody decisions based upon their legal determination of the best interests of the child.

Whether New York child custody disputes fit a traditional model or a new-fangled one, these disagreements can be emotionally charged and legally complicated. It's important for New York parents to get help from professionals as they attempt to stand up for their interests, and those of their children.

Source: New York Daily News, "David Tutera, ex Ryan Jurica separate their twins in custody battle after split," Rachel Maresca, Sept. 13, 2013

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