When families plan to have children through an Assisted Reproduction process such as Gestational Surrogacy or Genetic Surrogacy, families are formed with the assistance of physicians and fertility clinics all over the country and indeed, throughout the world. However, it appears in many case the medical technology developed faster than the laws in most states. When the medical process is over and a child is born, its critically important to make certain that the legal rights and status of all parties is clear. Each state and jurisdiction varies a great deal on how legal parentage is established in the intended parents, and who a donor and a surrogate insure that he or she have no parental obligations or responsibilities for any child born through the assisted reproduction procedure. The law in the state of Washington provides a pathway to ensure parental rights and responsibilities are properly assigned to the Intended Parents.
Effective January 1, 2019, Washington State allowed for compensated surrogacy, meaning a surrogate may receive a fee. Under Washington law, there must be a written agreement for surrogacy where both the intended parent(s) and surrogate have been represented by separate, independent legal counsel. This agreement will memorialize their shared intent as to who will be the parent or parents of a child born as the result of the medical procedures, who will have the rights and responsibilities as parents of the child, and who will not have such rights. If the Surrogacy Agreement is prepared in accordance with Washington law, your attorney can obtain an Order of Parentage before the child is even born, ensuring the hospital understands it is the Intended Parents who will are legally responsible for the child upon birth—with the right to make all decisions for the child immediately upon birth without further legal process. Washington is one of the few states that has fairly clear laws that specifically address these assisted reproduction issues and help make clear the legal relationships in such cases.
If you are considering surrogacy as part of your family planning journey, we would be happy to help you through the legal clearance process.