16 Jan Do I Need Representation as a Gestational Surrogate?
What does it mean to be a gestational surrogate?
Medically speaking, a gestational surrogate is a woman who volunteers to have the embryo of a couple who, for whatever reason are not able to conceive on their own, implanted in her uterus.
The embryo is created through the process of in vitro fertilization, IVF, using the ova from the prospective mother (or donor) and the sperm from the prospective father (or donor), so that even though the gestational surrogate is the one pregnant with the embryo. According to the International Assisted Reproduction Center, it is still the biological child of the infertile couple.
While the basic medical knowledge and understanding of gestational surrogacy are pretty clear, the legal processes and implications of gestational surrogacy are still pretty unclear. Gestational surrogacy is as important medically as it is legally.
If you are considering or have already agreed to be the gestational surrogate for prospective parents, it is important to know what you need to do legally as well as medically. Fortunately, there are many attorneys and legal firms that specialize in reproductive and family law.
Do I need legal representation?
First off, you will need legal representation as a gestational surrogate. There are several key legal aspects to the process of gestational surrogacy, beginning from the moment you first agree to be the gestational surrogate for a prospective parent or parents, so it is imperative that you have a lawyer to represent and assist you throughout the process.
Gestational surrogacy is a process that takes a lot of time and money as well as physical and emotional toil for both parties involved: you and the prospective parents.
Legally, the process begins with a gestational carrier contract, which is a legal agreement between the intended parents and a gestational carrier, plus any partner or spouse who she may have. These contracts can either be compensated or uncompensated (in most cases, the intended parents agree to pay for all of the gestational carrier’s medical expenses and other medical needs throughout the whole gestational process).
These contracts must address everything from parental rights, custody issues, the location of the delivery, future contact between both parties, both health and life insurance, control over medical decisions during the pregnancy, medical bills, liability for medical complications, availability of medical history, personal medical information on the gestational carrier, the prospective parents’ presence at doctors’ visits and at the delivery, and most importantly, the gestational carrier’s compensation and expenses, which can include any lost wages, legal fees, maternity clothes, and child care.
Am I Financially Responsible for Anything?
There are many important financial considerations that must be accounted for during gestational surrogacy. It is crucial that, as a gestational surrogate, you have a lawyer representing you who can make sure that all these needs, considerations, and requirements are adequately and properly addressed in the gestational carrier contract before you undergo the actual gestational surrogacy process, in order to make sure that both parties are content and everything that needs to be met is met. Otherwise, any mishap could result in a legal disaster, leaving both parties unhappy at a special time when happiness should be reigning supreme. Fortunately, though, most contracts are written up and negotiated by the attorneys of both parties before any terms are agreed upon.
The next legal concern that gestational surrogates must consider, and which makes legal representation all the more necessary, is insurance coverage. Being pregnant and delivering a child both come with a high price, financially as well as physically. The insurance policies of both the prospective parents and the gestational carrier should be discussed and reviewed between both parties and their attorneys so that coverage of medical bills and expenses can be assessed.
It is always important that no one should be left with medical bills they did not expect or cannot afford to pay off, especially during gestational surrogacy. Again, this is in order to protect both parties and prevent any financial mishaps, which could result in a bigger legal mishap between both parties.
Finally, the last big legal concern that makes finding legal representation necessary for gestational surrogates is the court order declaring the parentage of the child. Prospective parents who are enlisting the services of a gestational surrogate must obtain a court order claiming legal parentage of their future child. This is so that the hospital where the child will be born and the respective state’s department of vital records can place the names of the prospective parents on the future child’s birth certificate, instead of the gestational surrogate’s name.
Once the gestational surrogate has completed the first trimester of the pregnancy, the legal process of obtaining a birth certificate order should begin so that there is enough time to make sure the records have the correct information of the parents before the child is born. Otherwise, the intended parents will be required to adopt their child from the gestational surrogate or the gestational surrogate’s name will be listed on the hospital and state department records as the child’s biological parent, which can only create legal problems that could have been avoided.