Surrogacy Contracts And Processes

Building a family through assisted reproduction technology (ART) can bring the joy of new life into the world and lasting benefits for the intended parents. Many potential parents prefer ART and surrogacy over adoption for reasons such as the following:

  • Through ART, at least one parent will have a genetic bond with a child in most cases, as well as a choice of a surrogate carrier.
  • ART makes possible bonding from birth for intended parents more certainly than adoption usually does.
  • All parties enter into a surrogacy arrangement voluntarily in pursuit of the desired outcome: the birth of a child for the intended parents.

For many intended parents, typical (natural) birthing journeys are not possible or advisable for medical or other reasons. When these parents achieve their dreams of having a child despite infertility or other impediments, ART can feel like a true godsend. Surrogate mothers, in turn, often report humanitarian satisfaction that goes beyond the monetary compensation that they receive.

Is Orchestrated Happiness Enough?

Despite the expected happiness factors, there are also risks involved in surrogacy arrangements and processes. The risks may involve medical, practical or legal complications. Legal contracts help clarify roles, responsibilities and potential resolution of risk factors.

The state of Florida, along with other states, has spelled out legal processes that parties to surrogacy arrangements should follow. Surrogacy relationships may fall under one of these types:

  • Traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate mother’s egg and womb in combination with the intended father’s sperm lead to the birth of a child for the intended parents.
  • Genetic surrogacy, in which (in most cases) a donated egg together with an intended father’s sperm creates an embryo to be implanted in a surrogate’s womb.

In each surrogacy scenario, ART may solve biological barriers to parenthood but also raise important legal issues. The legal status of each person in the equation must be clarified for their own protection, including:

  • The intended parents (or parent in the case of a single-by-choice intended parent), who need reassurance that they will obtain possession of the child as promised.
  • The surrogate mother, who normally needs financial support to cover medical and other expenses as well as compensation for her expended time and effort, along with reassurance that she will not be put in a difficult and painful situation if the child is rejected by the intended parents.
  • The child who will be brought into the world through unconventional methods and will still need the security that every newborn deserves.

Surrogacy contracts and, in some cases, prebirth orders and/or adoptions occurring shortly after birth, establish the rights and responsibilities of each person in the surrogacy equation.

Some Nuts And Bolts Of Surrogacy Contracts In Florida

Intended parents benefit from the establishment of their parental rights before a child’s birth or very shortly thereafter. Surrogate mothers, in turn, need legal protection and reassurance regarding the medical supervision they will need. A child born through ART also receives important legal protections in case of birth defects or other complications. All of these points may be covered through prebirth orders, preplanned adoptions, traditional surrogacy contracts and gestational surrogacy contracts.

The state of Florida’s preplanned adoption and genetic surrogacy contract requirements can be summarized as follows:

For a preplanned adoption:

  • The adoption is agreed to take place within 48 hours of the child’s birth.
  • The surrogate mother agrees to assume parental rights and responsibilities if the intended parents back out of the agreement or if the alleged biological father turns out not to be what was alleged beforehand or if the preplanned adoption is not legally approved per Florida’s adoption laws.
  • The intended father agrees he will assume rights and responsibilities for the child even if the intended mother backs out.

For a gestational surrogacy contract:

  • Florida allows this type of arrangement only if the commissioning mother cannot physically carry a pregnancy or if she and/or the child would suffer harm through a pregnancy carried out by her.
  • Both the gestational surrogate and the commissioning couple must be at least 18 years old, and the couple must be legally married.
  • The gestational surrogate will be the only source of consent for medical care during the pregnancy.
  • The gestational carrier agrees to get property medical attention.
  • The gestational carrier agrees to relinquish the child at birth and the commissioning couple agrees to accept rights and responsibilities regardless of any impairment of the child.
  • The gestational mother agrees to assume parental rights if the child does not genetically belong to either member of the commissioning couple.

In both a preplanned adoption and a gestational contract case, the intended parents or commissioning couple will cover reasonable expenses for the traditional surrogate or gestational carrier. Details of the allowable compensation are spelled out in Florida’s laws.

Get More Information As Well As The Guidance You Need

The explanations above are not necessarily comprehensive for all possible scenarios or contingencies. You are urged to contact Mark E. Sawicki, P.A., for advice and representation if you expect to take part in a surrogacy arrangement as a/n:

  • Intended or commissioning parent
  • Traditional surrogate or gestational carrier
  • Egg donor or sperm donor
  • Fertility clinic professional or any involved health care professional

Call 954-928-9331 or send an email inquiry to schedule a consultation at a mutually convenient time and place. From Palm Beach Gardens, attorney Mark E. Sawicki is a go-to source of advice for ART and surrogacy clients statewide in Florida.