When hiring a surrogate mother to help you become parents, it’s not just a handshake. There are some legal things you are will need to consider:
- You are becoming a parent, with all the legal responsibilities of parenting.
- You are entering into a legal contract.
- You are legally hiring somebody.
That’s a whole lot of legal going on. Here are a few things you should know.
Contracts Are not valid everywhere, so be careful. Michigan banned them in 2007. All contracts in Michigan are void and unenforceable. Just being party to a surrogacy contract could win you a fine up to $10,000 and up to a year in jail.
If you are from Michigan, you’ll have to move before signing a surrogacy contract. And you’ll want to avoid hiring a surrogate from that state.
Michigan is not the only state to void surrogacy contracts. It’s just the worst. Some others ban them, and many others simply have no legal framework. That means you have no protection, because you have no idea what a court might say.
The solution is to come to Florida. We not only have legal surrogacy, but a very robust legal framework designed to protect all parties to a surrogacy arrangement.
Identifying the parents
Probably the most important element in a surrogacy contract is the section stipulating what happens to the child, or what can happen to the child. For instance, you want to make sure that when the child is born, you become the legal parents.
This works differently in different states. Where there is a legal framework in place, this is not an option. The intending parents have rights. The surrogate mother has rights. These are clearly stated. However, in states where the law is silent, you had best have a strong clause to make sure the baby is yours.
In some states, you can arrange pre-planned adoption, which means that you adopt the child upon its birth. This replaces a surrogacy agreement…and yet, it does not. This merely ensures the child will be yours when born.
The legal stuff
To answer the obvious, you must have a contract.
To answer the next obvious, nobody will make you hire an attorney, but you would be foolish not to. You leave yourself open to too many risks representing yourself.
To answer the somewhat less obvious question, no, you cannot have the same representation as the other party. The surrogate and the intended parents must each have their own representation to avoid a gross conflict of interest.
Lawyers are there not just to iron out contract details, but also to see the “adoption” at the end of the pregnancy through. That is the legal process that formally gives parental custody to the intended parents.
Normally, the intended parents pay for both parties’ legal costs, just as they pay for any other costs involved in creating their child.