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Surrogacy basics and the need for a contract

Many Californians find themselves wanting a family but without the biological means to do so. Whether this involves a same-sex couple, a single individual, or a couple that is suffering from fertility problems, these individuals may be able to find a solution through surrogacy. Surrogacy occurs when a woman agrees to carry a child to term for another individual or couple with the expectation that that individual or couple will assume the role/s of the child's legal parent/s.

There are two types of surrogacy. The first type involves using artificial fertilization where the surrogacy mother is the child's biological mother. This is oftentimes referred to as the traditional method, as it used to be the only option available. The second type of surrogacy involves the implantation of an embryo created by the expecting couple into the surrogacy mother. This is known as gestational surrogacy. Some couples prefer this method because it allows the child to be biologically and therefore genetically related to his or her future parents.

Regardless of which type of surrogacy a couple or individual chooses, it is imperative that the terms of the surrogacy are spelled out in an agreement. For example, such a contract should be clear that the biological mother shall relinquish her parental rights upon birth to the expecting parents. Those who fail to reduce this agreement to writing could find themselves in a legal battle about who the child's legal parents are, which can lead to bitter litigation.

Surrogacy can be a great option for those seeking to create or expand a family of their own. Yet, the matter can be quite sensitive, both emotionally and legally. Before engaging in the surrogacy process, it is beneficial that the matter is discussed with a family law attorney who knows how to ensure one's legal rights are protected and advise as to how to navigate the process with confidence.

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