Whatever other surrogacy professionals you choose to include in your surrogacy journey, you need to understand from the beginning that you will need a surrogacy attorney, no matter what.
Whereas you always have the option of working with a surrogacy agency or not, a surrogacy lawyer is a non-negotiable part of completing a successful surrogacy. Surrogacy laws vary greatly from state to state, and pursuing surrogacy without a lawyer’s guidance can quickly saddle you with grave legal consequences. In order to protect both intended parents and prospective surrogates during this process, a lawyer’s expertise is needed.
There are many ways that a surrogacy or assisted reproductive technology (ART) attorney will help you in your journey to fulfilling your surrogacy goals, whether you’re an intended parent or prospective surrogate.
1. They will explain your local surrogacy laws and regulations.
As mentioned before, surrogacy laws vary by state. Some states are extremely surrogacy-friendly, while others have restricted the process to make it near impossible. Your own surrogacy journey will be dependent on the surrogate involved; she will give birth in her home state, and any pre-birth and post-birth legal processes will be governed by state surrogacy laws there.
Before you begin your surrogacy process, you will need to meet with a surrogacy attorney in the surrogate’s state to make sure that you can proceed with the process legally. If there are any important restrictions or unique laws regarding a surrogacy completed there, your surrogacy lawyer will let you know.
2. They will make sure your surrogacy is completed legally.
Your surrogacy lawyer doesn’t just explain these local surrogacy laws to you — they follow up to make sure that your process adheres to them. This includes filing any necessary legal paperwork to protect your surrogacy’s legal integrity, following up with your medical professionals to make sure they follow legal surrogacy standards and more. While your surrogacy lawyer may not be as actively involved as your surrogacy agency during the whole surrogacy process, they should still be available to address any concerns you have and any challenges that appear along the way.
3. They will help you complete your surrogacy contract.
An important part of your surrogacy attorney’s services to you includes drafting and finalizing a surrogacy contract, which must be done before any medical processes can begin. Intended parents and surrogates will need separate surrogacy lawyers for this part of the legal process, as their rights and interests must be independently protected to create an equitable surrogacy journey.
A surrogacy contract covers all parts of your surrogacy journey: compensation for the surrogate, expectations and responsibilities for intended parents and surrogates during the process, sensitive issues like termination and selective reduction, risks and liabilities for both parties, and more. When you work with an experienced surrogacy lawyer, they can address all of the aspects that need to be addressed — which you cannot do on your own. Filling out a surrogacy contract online will not fulfill all of the necessary parts of a successful surrogacy contract; it must be completed by experienced surrogacy lawyers.
4. They will protect your rights and interests during the surrogacy process.
Why is a surrogacy lawyer so important in crafting a surrogacy contract and in the surrogacy process in general? It’s because a surrogacy attorney’s experience is necessary to point out the risky parts of the surrogacy process that first-time intended parents and surrogates may not be attuned to.
For example, those who are pursuing an independent surrogacy may not see the necessity in working with a surrogacy lawyer if they already have a trusting relationship with their intended parent or surrogate. However, a surrogacy lawyer can anticipate all of the risks and liabilities that you may not, especially if you have an established relationship with your intended parent or surrogate and can’t imagine anything going wrong. While the likelihood that a complication will occur is likely fairly low, it’s still important to protect your own rights and interests in this case — and a surrogacy lawyer is the only person who can effectively outline these risks.
No matter your relationship with the other party of your surrogacy, your personal surrogacy attorney will make sure that all of your rights and interests are protected, including your view on sensitive issues like termination and selective reduction and compensation. This way, you are prevented from having to go through these intense, sometimes awkward, conversations on your own.
5. They will establish parental rights for intended parents from as early as possible.
Another critically important reason that you need a surrogacy attorney for your surrogacy process is to protect the intended parents’ rights as early as possible. As mentioned before, surrogacy laws do vary by state — which means that the steps needed to establish intended parents’ rights will vary, too. Your surrogacy attorney will know exactly what those steps need to be in your situation.
Even though a surrogate is not genetically related to the baby she carries in most cases, without certain legal processes, she may still have rights to the child — or the intended parents may not have automatic parental rights after birth, especially if a sperm, egg or embryo donor is used. In order to protect those rights, your surrogacy attorney will have to go through certain legal processes, which he or she is experienced in. From there, he or she will inform the necessary medical professionals, including the hospital, of the situation and the accurate legal rights. Without the help of a surrogacy attorney, the custody of the child born via surrogacy can be up for legal debate, even if both parties agree on the parentage of the child.
How to Find a Surrogacy Attorney Today
As you can see, a surrogacy attorney is a necessary part of your surrogacy journey, no matter whether you’re an intended parent or prospective surrogate.
When you’re choosing a surrogacy attorney to work with, it’s important to choose an experienced ART attorney who is familiar with the surrogacy laws in your state. If you’re working with a surrogacy agency, your surrogacy specialist will likely be able to refer you to trusted local surrogacy attorneys they commonly work with.
The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys also keeps a database of surrogacy lawyers who meet their standards, which is a great place to begin your research for the perfect surrogacy attorney for you. Make sure to always do your diligent research on a potential surrogacy attorney and ask them important questions before committing to them. As with every other professional in your surrogacy journey, the ultimate decision of which surrogacy attorney to use will be up to you.
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