For any intended parents considering creating a family via surrogacy, one of the first steps should be consulting an experienced surrogacy attorney.
The International Fertility Law Group exclusively helps intended parents who are building their families via assisted reproductive technologies such as egg donation, sperm donation, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy.
More than a decade ago, IFLG founder Rich Vaughn and his husband became parents to twin boys using assisted reproduction. Their boys were conceived via IVF using sperm from each father, donated eggs, and a surrogate.
Rich Vaughn (left) with his husband and children
“When we began our path to parenthood, we were fortunate to have the services of a veteran surrogacy lawyer who ensured we had the proper documentation and court orders to protect our family legally,” Vaughn said. “Perhaps even more importantly, he helped prepare us for what to expect and the critical decisions that had to be made at each step in the reproductive law process. That challenging and joyful experience inspired me to leave a successful career in corporate law for the exciting and rapidly changing field of assisted reproductive technology (ART) law, or fertility law.”
An experienced surrogacy lawyer is an essential part of protecting families created via ART. The IFLG can help.
Here are five reasons intended parents need a surrogacy attorney.
A LEGAL GUIDE CAN EASE THE STRESS ON YOUR PATH TO PARENTHOOD
At IFLG, our mission and greatest joy is to support and guide intended families on their miraculous journey. But for many intended parents, we know it can be a stressful road ahead. Having a legal expert on your family’s team can help reduce some of that anxiety for your journey.
Our IFLG team of attorneys and paralegals have helped thousands of intended parents from all over the world as they become parents through egg or sperm donation, IVF and/or surrogacy.
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, we have experienced a “baby boom” of client babies being born, and we have helped hundreds of intended parents travel to the U.S. to be present for the birth of their babies, and get their babies safely back home.
From drafting legal agreements to keeping up with local and international laws, an experienced surrogacy attorney will keep your journey on track and help you overcome any legal hurdles you may encounter, making your experience less stressful and more enjoyable.
SURROGACY AND PARENTAGE LAWS VARY BETWEEN STATES AND COUNTRIES
Despite years of work by organizations, state lawmakers and surrogacy advocates to modernize and standardize parentage and surrogacy laws in the U.S., a diverse patchwork of laws currently persist across the nation.
An experienced surrogacy attorney will be up-to-date on changing laws that could affect your journey, knowledgeable about the variations in state laws, and will guide you on which jurisdictions are most favorable for establishing the legal parentage.
For example, under existing Louisiana surrogacy laws, only so-called “altruistic” surrogacy is legal; meaning it is not legal to compensate a surrogate for time, inconvenience or discomfort. Even if a surrogate is willing, a surrogacy agreement is not enforceable in court. New York State had a similar law until February 2021 when compensated gestational surrogacy was finally made legal again in New York, where IFLG also has offices.
Meanwhile, California is known for its progressive laws governing assisted reproduction and parental establishment, which allow intended parents to obtain pre-birth court orders of parentage so that the intended parents, and not the surrogate, are established as legal parents from the moment of birth.
At IFLG, our attorneys have established networks of local attorneys across the nation, and are highly-versed in working with local courts on surrogacy cases. To date, IFLG has helped thousands of intended parents navigate the variations in state laws across the U.S.
Just as laws vary from state to state in the U.S., surrogacy and parentage laws also vary widely from country to country. Some jurisdictions have clear laws governing surrogacy, while other countries have non-existent laws and little regulation of surrogacy or other fertility treatments.
For intended parents who travel to the United States or another country as part of their surrogacy journey, our experienced surrogacy lawyers can also help establish a relationship with a reliable and knowledgeable attorney in their home country. Our clients at IFLG currently benefit from our international network of experienced family law attorneys in 93 countries.
LAWS ABOUT FERTILITY AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS CONTINUALLY CHANGE
The world has changed immensely over the past decade, amid rapidly evolving technology. With a growing acceptance of ART and more access to reproductive technologies, we’re seeing new family-building options and changing definitions of what family and parentage mean.
Experienced surrogacy attorneys keep their fingers on the pulse of the reproductive and parentage laws in their jurisdictions. They will be able to help guide the intended parent on what is required to comply with local requirements.
Similar to the variations in state law, U.S. lawmakers and courts have differed from state to state in their acceptance and embrace of new family structures since same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015.
Over the past six years, several states have introduced new laws imposing new limitations on reproductive rights, with some even seeking to establish the “personhood” of embryos, even before they are viable outside the womb.
IFLG attorneys have a proven track record of working successfully with local judges and government agencies around surrogacy and ART issues.
OUR ATTORNEYS KNOW HOW TO DRAFT LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE SURROGACY AGREEMENTS
In the case of a surrogacy agreement, it is essential that all parties are on the same page before a crisis or tough decisions arise. A correctly prepared surrogacy agreement is meant to clearly state the intentions, rights and responsibilities of all parties, and is designed to be customized to the intended parents’ and surrogate’s unique circumstances.
An experienced surrogacy lawyer will craft a legally enforceable surrogate agreement that covers several essential issues, including the surrogate’s health insurance, her intention, the waiving of the surrogate’s and her spouse’s parentage rights, and issues surrounding the surrogate’s health.
At IFLG, our lawyers will properly draft an agreement that also covers a range of emotionally charged topics, like how many attempted embryo transfers the surrogate will undergo over a specific period of time, how many embryos the surrogate will agree to carry, the selective reduction of embryos in the cases of multiples or serious diseases, and the right to terminate the pregnancy and under what conditions.
Other important points in the agreement will cover everyone’s conduct during the pregnancy, post-birth conduct relating to breast milk pumping, the frequency and type of contact and communication between the surrogate and intended parents during the pregnancy and after. It will also specify the terms of the intended parents’ participation in the baby’s delivery, all social media confidentiality, the set-up and maintenance of a surrogacy escrow account, and more.
Of course, the lawyer’s office is not the place for IP’s and surrogates to broach these difficult questions for the first time. While both parties should already understand their agreement details, an experienced surrogacy lawyer will ensure all parties are legally agreeing to the same plan.
AN EXPERIENCED SURROGACY ATTORNEY CAN HELP PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
Nothing is more important than the safety and security of your family. While some intended parents may want to accept cut-rate legal advice, or cobble together an agreement from online templates, those tactics can lead to legal minefields that later backfire.
Navigating the complex, months-long or years-long process of starting a family via surrogacy can be stressful enough. IP’s shouldn’t try to stretch themselves thin by worrying about potential problems like whether they are really the legal parent of their child.
Forming a family through surrogacy is also not the place for legal guesswork. You want to make sure you and your family are legally protected in all instances before you begin the journey.
Hiring an experienced surrogacy attorney means you will have a legal expert on your team who can reassure you that your entire family will be in good hands all the way through your journey.
Contact the IFLG office today to learn more about how our team of experienced Los Angeles and New York surrogacy lawyers can help you every step of the way.