Although it is difficult to find reliable statistics on surrogacy, for a wide variety of reasons, it is clear to anyone who investigates surrogacy that the options and conditions that are available to someone seeking to use surrogacy to complete their families have changed over the years it has been an option. In recent years, more and more people have chosen to embrace surrogacy as a route to complete their families. It is a promising tool and option for a wide range of individuals.
Yet, despite this surge in the number of people considering surrogacy, there are still more questions than answers surrounding this topic. Some of these questions are geared towards getting information about the legal ins and outs of surrogacy, because they differ so much from place to place and by marital situation.
A significant amount of legal complexity still surrounds the issue of surrogacy. The topic has not yet been fully legislated or regulated and may not ever be. In fact, there are significant legal differences from state-to-state, which may complicate things if intended parents and surrogates are located in different states. Some states have very liberal and flexible laws toward surrogacy and surrogate parents, whereas other states have taken draconian positions on this issue. All of this means that it is important to deal with a well-qualified and extremely experienced legal expert when starting your surrogacy journey.
Common Questions for Surrogacy Lawyers
Before deciding on which lawyer that you will select to represent you on your surrogacy journey, there are some important questions that you should ask the lawyers that you are considering. Your surrogacy Agency, who have likely worked with countless attorneys over the years and seen the results they are able to obtain, is a good first resource for your search for an attorney to represent you. Their recommendations are a good place to start interviewing attorneys. Below are three common questions that you should consider asking your potential attorney.
What is your experience with surrogacy cases?
When searching for a lawyer, you will want to know how long the lawyer has worked with assisted reproductive technology and what portion of his/her practice is devoted to this issue. Given the complexity of reproductive legal issues, you want to make sure that your lawyer is an expert in this area. Because intended parents and surrogates are often located in different states, you will also want to know in which jurisdictions your lawyer is licensed to practice.
Surrogacy costs: What are your attorney fees?
In addition to expertise, cost is an important consideration for many intended parents. The more experienced an attorney is, the more costly they might be per hour, but that expertise will save you in the long run from more costly legal issues down the road. Never choose an attorney based solely on cost. Different lawyers approach costs in different ways. Some lawyers will charge a flat fee whereas others will charge per hour; and, some lawyers will ask for retainers upfront, whereas others won’t. Again, there is no right or wrong answer here. But you want to make sure that you have sufficient information to make a decision that leaves you comfortable.
A reputable lawyer should be comfortable and confident in giving you these answers, including how much similar surrogacy cases have cost from beginning to end. You also want to have confidence that your attorney will handle the process smoothly from beginning to end, because the surrogacy process can be stressful to navigate without proper guidance.
What Potential Legal Problems Should I Foresee?
One question that seems to be at the forefront of every intended parent’s mind is: what are some potential legal problems that intended parents and surrogates may encounter during the surrogacy process?
It is important to note that most surrogacy experiences go seamlessly without any problems. But, when problems do crop up, they tend to gain national attention, fueling some intended parents fears about going through surrogacy. Most of these fears and articles are outdated and Simple Surrogacy has enough experience in all aspects of surrogacy to ensure there is nothing to worry about. Simple Surrogacy has never encountered a legal situation that led to any delay or difficulties in the Intended Parents having the rights to the child. This is due in large part to only working with and recommending experienced attorneys who know how to navigate the legal process.
The most widely reported stories have tended to happen when the surrogate mother refuses to give up custody of her child, either in the hospital or soon after birth. This concern can be addressed in numerous ways. Highly professional agencies put into place airtight legal agreements that prevent this from happening. And, these same agencies also provide counseling services to surrogates so that they can understand any feelings that may crop up around the birth of the child. Also, these reputable agencies are careful about screening potential surrogates before the process begins. In addition, certain states, such as Texas, where Simple Surrogacy does the majority of their matches, have very strong laws in place to protect the Intended Parents. In Texas, the laws state that the surrogate is never the legal parent of the child- even from as early as conception, so it is impossible in Texas for the surrogate to even attempt to try and claim rights to the child. These types of laws and protections are what make Texas such a safe, strong state in which to enter a Gestational Surrogacy Contract.
The Uniform Parentage Act
Many legal decisions related to surrogacy come down to the Uniform Parentage Act. This Act spells out issues related to parentage and custody under a variety of circumstances. Recognizing that the medical sphere is changing rapidly, and that societal expectations related to same gendered parents is also evolving, this Act has gone through multiple iterations.
To reduce some of the most troubling legal and moral issues surrounding this topic, most agencies have moved to a process in which the child who the surrogate is carrying is not related to her. This is gestational Surrogacy. Instead, eggs come from an unrelated donor. Surrogates working with Simple Surrogacy know that the child they have is not theirs but a gift they are carrying for another family, as they are represented by an independent attorney who helps to explain the laws in Texas to them.
How We Help at Simple Surrogacy
Given how complicated the legalities surrounding surrogacy can be, we’ve created what we call the “Legal Included” program. Intended parents and surrogates residing in Texas will receive a match sheet that includes the terms that’ll be used to draft a surrogacy contract. After reviewing and signing the match sheet, intended parents will begin working with a respected and experienced lawyer, who will draft a contract for them after the retainer agreement has been signed and they’ve received payment.
Intended parents who do not reside in Texas will still be offered much guidance and steered to a respected reproductive law attorney in the state of the expected birth. They’ll receive information regarding the terms and amounts included in all of our surrogacy contracts, as will their surrogate. This prevents costly negotiation when the terms are sent to the attorneys, because all parties have already agreed to the amounts.
We also have an associate attorney that can assist intended parents with the egg donor contract, as well as review the contract with the Donor to ensure understanding. Once this contract is signed, the medical process can begin.
This process gives our clients a sense of relief and allows the necessary steps that have to be taken to go over a little more smoothly.
More and more individuals are considering using surrogacy as an opportunity to successfully complete their families. Despite the increasing popularity of surrogacy, there are still ongoing questions and many of these questions are related to legal issues. The legal framework surrounding surrogacy is still vague; there are significant variation from state-to-state. Therefore, it is vitally important that intended parents do two things. First, they should find an Agency like Simple Surrogacy, who has encountered all types of legal situation and can guide them to a Reproductive law attorney who knows how to represent their case. And, second, once they have selected this lawyer, they should ensure that all best practice legal documents and contracts are completed. A well-qualified lawyer will be your advocate throughout this process, maximizing the chances of a successful experience.
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