There are no surrogacy laws in Rhode Island currently. But this doesn’t mean that you won’t need to follow a detailed legal process like the intended parents and surrogates living in any other state.
In Rhode Island, every surrogacy case goes through the Chief Judge of Family Court in Providence. Because all surrogacy cases are handled by the same person, the legal process of surrogacy in Rhode Island is very consistent. Your Rhode Island surrogacy attorney will also likely have an established professional relationship with the judge, as well as a thorough knowledge of the court’s processes.
Contact a surrogacy attorney for any questions about the rules and regulations of surrogacy in Rhode Island, or if you’re dealing with any legal issues with surrogacy. Although the following information may offer you a better understanding of surrogacy law in R.I., it’s not intended and should not be taken as legal advice.
The following are some of the most common questions about Rhode Island surrogacy laws:
“Is Surrogacy Legal in Rhode Island?”
Yes. Surrogacy is legal in Rhode Island, although there are no laws that expressly permit, prohibit, or regulate it. Instead, all surrogacy cases are taken to the same Chief Judge of Family Court.
Despite the lack of R.I. surrogacy laws, surrogacy is still commonplace in Rhode Island, and your surrogacy attorney can help you navigate the legal steps successfully.
“Is Traditional Surrogacy Legal in Rhode Island?”
Sort of. Again, there are no traditional surrogacy laws in Rhode Island. Circumstances of traditional surrogacy are usually legally treated as adoption in Rhode Island, because a traditional surrogate is the biological mother of the baby she carries. As such, she would be required to wait a minimum of 15 days after the baby’s birth before she could give her consent to the intended parents adopting the baby.
While there are also no gestational surrogacy laws in Rhode Island, the process is less legally and emotionally complex because the surrogate is not biologically related to the baby. Because of this, most surrogacy professionals will only complete gestational surrogacies, and traditional surrogacy is very rare in Rhode Island and in any state.
“Is Compensated Surrogacy Legal in Rhode Island?”
Sometimes. In the past, the Chief Judge has prohibited compensation for traditional surrogates, because they’re legally viewed as adoptions.
However, the Judge has consistently permitted compensation for gestational surrogates, so this type of commercial surrogacy is legal in Rhode Island.
“Is Same-Sex Surrogacy Legal in Rhode Island?”
Yes. LGBT intended parents will go through the same legal process that same-sex couples complete in Rhode Island, with their case being presented before the Chief Judge. But, like opposite-sex couples, LGBT intended parents are encouraged to consult with a surrogacy attorney who has a thorough understanding of Rhode Island’s surrogacy processes, because everyone’s individual case is a little different.
Creating a R.I. Surrogacy Contract
Even though there are no Rhode Island surrogacy laws dictating this process, you’ll still need to create a Rhode Island surrogacy legal contract. This must be completed prior to any medical actions related to the surrogacy.
Participants will need to include the intended parents, the gestational surrogate, her spouse (if she’s married) and the two parties’ attorneys. Individual legal representation is important for fair and equal representation during the legal steps. The involvement of the surrogate’s spouse (when applicable) is for legal purposes, as they’ll need to agree to terms of the surrogacy contract and acknowledge that they have no parental rights to the child.
Surrogacy contracts detail important points such as the risks that everyone accepts, the expectations that each party has, compensation for the surrogate, how everyone feels about things like selective reduction or what would happen in the event of a pregnancy complication and more.
When the surrogacy contract is finalized, you can begin the medical steps together.
Determining Legal Parentage in Rhode Island
There are no laws on surrogacy in Rhode Island that talk about pre-birth parentage orders. However, because all surrogacy cases in the state are overseen by the same judge, there is a lot of consistency on rulings regarding parentage orders in Rhode Island, despite the lack of surrogacy laws in Rhode Island specifying this process.
The judge has consistently granted intended parents pre-birth orders in gestational surrogacy agreements, so this is a relatively easy process for most intended parents living in Rhode Island, regardless of your marital status, and regardless of whether or not you have a genetic link to your child. This means that single intended parents, unmarried couples and intended parents who have used gamete donors can be granted parentage orders in Rhode Island for gestational surrogacy, even though there is no Rhode Island surrogacy law requiring it.
Consult a surrogacy professional to learn more about what surrogacy laws in R.I. could affect you as a surrogate or as an intended parent in your individual situation. Everyone’s legal situation is unique, so contact a surrogacy professional today to learn more about how to proceed.