In re Marriage of Buzzanca
61 Cal.Appp.4th 1410, 72 Cal.Rptr.2d 280 (1998)

  • Luanne and John Buzzanca wanted a child. They got a fertilized embryo unrelated to either of them and had it implanted in a surrogate.
    • They were trying to get a child with perfect DNA.
  • After the pregnancy started, the Buzzanca divorced.
    • Luanne claimed that the she and John were the lawful parents.
    • John disclaimed any responsibility.
    • The surrogate disclaimed any responsibility.
  • The Trial Court determined that the baby had no lawful parents!
    • The Trial Court found that the surrogate was not the parent because she was simply providing a service to the Buzzancas. Neither were the donors.
    • The Trial Court found that neither Buzzanca was the parent since neither of them had any biological relationship to the baby.
      • Luanne didn't provide an egg, genetic material, or give birth.
    • The Trial Court found that the child was a "legal orphan."
  • The Appellate Court reversed and found the baby to be the legal child of Luanne and John.
    • The Appellate Court noted that there are instances where a non-biological father can be held to be the legal father of a child.
      • When a husband consents to the wife's artificial insemination (due to infertility issues), he is the legal father even though there is no biological relationship.
      • Similarly, both Buzzancas consented to the creation of the baby, so they are the legal parents.
    • Under the Uniform Parentage Act, there are a number of ways paternity can be established other than biology, including:
      • The parents were married at the time of birth.
      • Consenting to be named the father on the child's birth certificate.
  • The Appellate Court felt that their decision was a stop-gap measure and made an open request to the Legislature to say something conclusive about this issue.
  • This case established the concept of parentage by consent.
    • The question is still open as to whether this decision would allow the child to inherit from the Buzzancas, or if it is just applicable to custody and support.
    • Uniform Parentage Act § 707 specifically says that if you agree to have a child by assisted reproduction, but die before placement, any child that eventually results from your agreement cannot inherit as your heir (unless you specifically say so in writing).