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Guiding Principles for Picking Parents

Elizabeth Bartholet

Harvard Law School

Harvard Women's Law Journal, Vol. 27, p. 323, 2004

This paper looks at our new technological ability to determine genetic paternity, in the context of legal and social developments related to the family, and tries to come up with some guidelines for figuring out how to decide parentage in the modern era. Many claim that since DNA tests mean we can now easily tell who the genetic father is, we should make that man the legal father and release any other who might be playing that role from parental responsibility. However the trend in law over recent decades has been in the direction of reducing the role that biology plays in determining parentage, with the law giving increasing deference to existing social parenting relationships and to the intent to create such relationships as factors to take into account when parentage is contested. This paper assesses the importance of the genetic link to parenting, considers it in comparison to a variety of other factors relevant to parenting, and sets out some guiding principles for choosing among possible parents, principles designed to serve children's interests in stable, nurturing, parenting relationships.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

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Date posted: August 13, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Bartholet, Elizabeth, Guiding Principles for Picking Parents. Harvard Women's Law Journal, Vol. 27, p. 323, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=774387

Contact Information

Elizabeth Bartholet (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
Hauser Hall 422
1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
(617) 495-3128 (Phone)
(617) 496-4947 (Fax)

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