An experienced surrogacy attorney can provide you with the answers, representation and support you need during the surrogacy journey.
When you start your surrogacy journey, you need to think about the surrogacy professionals you will need to work with. Contract negotiations, legal representation, and surrogacy laws can be challenging for both surrogates and intended parents, and a lawyer specializing in surrogacy will play a vital role in the process. Each party needs to hire independent legal counsel to help with the surrogacy journey. Surrogacy agencies may have a list of preferred legal professionals, but surrogates and intended parents need to select the attorney that best meets their needs. Here are a few reasons to hire a surrogacy attorney.
1. Surrogacy Laws are Confusing
Surrogacy laws and regulations can vary by state and vary significantly by country. While you may be completing your journey in the US, if intended parents are international and come here for surrogacy, the laws returning home with the baby vary depending on the home country. Neighboring states can also have vastly different surrogacy laws. California is one of the most accepting of surrogacy journeys, but nearby Arizona is not considered favorable at all. Other surrounding states are at least somewhat favorable.
Differentiating friendly from unfriendly states can be confusing. Contracts can change depending on how many people are involved, too. For example, a couple using an egg donor or sperm donor and gestational surrogate will need to coordinate more contracts than someone only using a gestational surrogate. Traditional surrogacy contracts must be altruistic or are illegal altogether in some states. Commercial surrogacy may have limited fees in other places. Each of these types of agreements will have different needs.
There are a lot of moving parts, and a surrogacy lawyer will be a must to help you understand what needs to be done in your situation.
Documents seem to pile up at every turn. There are surrogacy contracts, parentage documents, court documents, legal representation documents, and many other documents to sign and review. Hiring your attorney will help you to ensure that these documents convey your wishes and needs and have your best interests outlined. Forgetting just one document can halt the process or cause legal troubles for both intended parents and surrogates. The intended parents and surrogate need their own representation to check and/ or draft these documents.
Additionally, birth certificates alone can be complicated in some places. Some places may require an initial birth certificate with the surrogate’s name and then a corrected one with the intended mother’s name. Lawyers know what documentation must be provided for each of these.
When discussing your expectations, it is easy to get caught up in emotional instincts, but the fertility attorney can remain objective. Other than his or her fee, he has no stake in this journey. He or she can also explain protocols, expectations, and legalities that you, as the surrogate or intended parent, may not see. The lawyer also knows the limits of the law and whether your wishes are something that can be handled according to the existing regulations.
Often, a lawyer specializing in third-party reproduction can also help you understand the other party’s requests and advise you on the legality and logic of their requests. This can be an invaluable service.
4. It May Be Required
Some states will require by law that surrogates and intended parents have legal representation in this process. This can be an overwhelming task, but many agencies have preferred attorneys or attorneys on staff that can help complete this process. Make sure that you and the other party hire separate attorneys. You do not want a question of conflict of interest to come up.
Unfortunately, sometimes issues arise that cannot be handled by a mediator, and the parties find themselves in a court dispute. Hiring a fertility attorney early on can ensure that you are adequately represented should the need arise. In addition, parental rights need to be established to protect both the surrogate and intended parents’ rights to the child, and this should be done as early as possible. Also, you want to make sure that you do not owe repayments or additional money because something in a contract was left off, and you are held responsible. Fertility attorneys will know what needs to be documented in contracts and court paperwork.
6. Complicated Cases
If you have a particular case, such as traditional surrogacy, same-sex intended parents, single intended parents, or other unique needs, a surrogacy attorney can help navigate those requirements both legally and morally. Some states have rules that limit who can be the intended parents, such as same-sex couples or single parents. Some of those states only allow married heterosexual couples to be the intended parents. You would not want to complete a journey only to find out that you could not legally be named the parents of the child.
7. Paperwork Coordination
Some documents must be filed with the court or signed by judges. The attorneys will be responsible for doing this. They will make sure that records are registered at the right time and for the courts in the proper jurisdiction. This is especially important for cross country or international journeys.
8. General Peace of Mind
Regulations, contracts, and legal paperwork are complicated and often make surrogacy stressful. Hiring an attorney can minimize the stress of the legal process. Find an experienced third-party reproduction lawyer and not just family law. Family lawyers may be fantastic, but the legal system has many complications that are not present for family law. Many family law firms may have a fertility specialist on-site, so if you are considering a family firm, ask if there is someone experienced in surrogacy, fertility, or egg donation.
You will want to hire an attorney to represent you no matter what kind of journey you are taking. Even if you know the other party, you each need your own attorney. Though no one expects to go into a surrogacy contract expecting an issue, they do sometimes happen. Attorneys are there to help minimize these issues and represent you if one does arise. Do not be afraid to ask for the things that you need to make this a smooth journey. This is one of the most important journeys you will ever take, whether you are an intended parent or surrogate.