What to Know About Surrogacy and Arizona Law

A Scottsdale family lawyer can provide help to families who need to use the legal system to protect their relationships or to resolve conflict among family members For example, attorneys can provide assistance with custody, divorce, and adoption. Singer Pistiner, P.C. offers comprehensive help to families facing many different kinds of family law issues and we work hard to protect the rights of our clients when some of their most important relationships are at stake. 

One area in Arizona law which can be especially difficult for families to cope with is circumstances where individuals decide to expand their family using surrogacy. Just recently, AZ Central published an article about the challenges that can arise when a woman agrees to serve as a surrogate for another individual or for a couple who is hoping to have a baby.

Arizona Laws on Surrogacy

According to AZ Central, Arizona law prohibits surrogacy contracts, or contracts between a couple who wants to conceive and a surrogate who agrees to carry their child and give birth on their behalf.

While the law prohibits surrogacy contracts, surrogacy is a very common arrangement in Arizona and agreements would help to protect the rights of intended parents and willing surrogates who agree to carry the baby on the parent’s behalf. Most fertility doctors who help parents to arrange to have a child through surrogacy recommend that contracts be created between parents and surrogates in order to make certain hat everyone is on the same page about the arrangement. Unfortunately, these agreements are not enforceable in Arizona and the court will not hold the parents or surrogates to the terms of the agreement that they reach.

When a surrogate carries a child for parents, Arizona law does allow for the intended parents to get a court order to declare them the legal parents of a child that is born through surrogacy. It is very common for parents to petition for this court declaration.

The ability of parents to go to court and get the court to declare they are the child’s parents dates back to a 1994 case. In 1994, an appellate court in Arizona ruled that “intended parents” could rebut the presumption under Arizona state law that says the surrogate is the child’s legal mother.

In many cases, now, a judge will actually issue a ruling even before the child is born in response to a petition to the court that the parents submit.

However, there is a complication: it’s typically possible only for a married or unmarried heterosexual couple to submit this type of petition and have it granted and it’s typically only possible in circumstances where the heterosexual couple has used their own egg and their own sperm. Because the embryo has a genetic connection to both parents, the parents can petition to have the child declared to be theirs before the child is born.

If the parents do not have a genetic connection to the child, such as in circumstances where a heterosexual couple or a same sex couple relies on a donated egg and/or relies on donated sperm, a pre-birth order declaring them parents may not be an option. Instead, AZ Central indicates that the parents would have to wait until after the child was born and would have to adopt the child. This gives them limited or no protection while the child is being carried by the surrogate mother.

Getting Help from a Scottsdale Family Lawyer

Understanding the rules on surrogacy can be complicated because each state has their own laws that govern how surrogacy arrangements are treated. It is important for parents and surrogate mothers who are entering into this type of arrangement to understand what law will apply in their particular circumstances so they can protect their own interests and so they can protect the interests of the unborn child.

Singer Pistiner, P.C. can provide help in these situations and can provide help in other circumstances where parents need assistance understanding the laws governing their relationship with their children. Give us a call at (480) 418-7011 or contact us online to today to find out more about the assistance that a Scottsdale family lawyer can provide to you.

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