Surrogacy and Custody Rights
By Lisa Vari on G+
Surrogacy issues are arising more frequently in Allegheny County family law cases, as the cost of the process goes down and more and more people are able to afford it. As the process becomes more common, the law has become more settled regarding Pennsylvania surrogacy rights. There is no statute governing surrogacy on the books. The intended mother (i.e. the mother who donated the egg, or the wife of the father who provided the sperm), will generally prevail in a dispute over custody with a surrogate, however in order to avoid problems going forward, it is a good idea to draft a surrogacy contract laying out respective custody and financial contribution rights and obligations.
In Nevada, this issue became more complicated in a ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court. In many ways a unique case, a woman gave birth to a child from a fertilized egg provided by her partner. The women were in a same-sex relationship, but ended their relationship shortly after the birth of the child. The surrogate was named on the birth certificate as the biological mother, but signed an affidavit a year after the birth naming her partner as the biological mother.
After the couple broke up, the surrogate mother petitioned for custody and child support, but was denied by the trial court because she was “just a surrogate.” Therefore, she was only entitled to third party visitation. The Nevada Supreme Court reversed this decision, because of a joint-parenting agreement that was drafted before the child’s birth, laying out a plan for both women to serve as parents for the child.
The court decided that in that case, the joint parenting agreement would allow for a presumption that either of the parents could be the mother. They also decided that the public policy of the state of Nevada was served by having a child being raised by two fit, loving mothers, and that it was not necessary to choose between them.
To make sure that the surrogacy process goes smoothly, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced Pittsburgh Surrogacy Attorney and draft a gestational agreement (also known as a surrogacy contract) laying out the obligations and rights of all parties. Contact our team today!