Strickland v. DayAnnotate this Case
A same-sex couple conceived a child through the use of artificial insemination (AI) of sperm from an anonymous donor. Kimberly Day was the gestational mother; Z.S. was born in 2011 in Mississippi. The couple separated in 2013. In October 2016, the Rankin County Chancery Court entered a final judgment of divorce. In the judgment, the chancery court found, among other things, that Christina Strickland acted in loco parentis to Z.S., but that Christina was not Z.S.’s legal parent. Central to the chancery court’s decision was the finding that the anonymous sperm donor had parental rights that had to be terminated and thus precluded Christina from being Z.S.’s legal parent. Christina appealed, presenting a question of first impression to the Mississippi Supreme Court: whether the chancery court erred in finding that the rights of the anonymous sperm donor precluded a finding that Christina was Z.S.’s legal parent. After review of the record and the relevant law, the Supreme Court found the chancery court erred in this finding. First, an anonymous sperm donor is not a legal parent whose rights must be terminated. And second, the doctrine of equitable estoppel precluded Kimberly from challenging Christina’s legal parentage of Z.S. The chancery court’s judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for a custody determination.