Surrogates are women who carry children for a family who cannot conceive a child themselves. With the legalization of same-sex marriages across the United States and the continuing need for helping spouses in traditional weddings develop and raise children, surrogates are in high demand right now.
For many people, the most important reason to get married is having children and raising a family. Various reasons can keep these dreams from coming to fruition, but surrogates can help fulfill these goals and aspirations for many different families in Texas.
For instance, many people are getting genetically tested early in life to determine if he or they carry any disorders that may be transferred unknowingly to their children. To avoid the emotional and frequently physically painful consequences of doing so, those afflicted by genetic disorders and problems may opt to engage with a surrogate to bring a child into the world.
Surrogacy agreement requirements in Texas
As with any area of family law, surrogacy relationships and agreements carry their requirements that must be met to be valid in a court of law. Many people do not know that Texas was among the first states to implement laws related to surrogacy. Those laws are encoded within the Texas Family Code in Section 160.
The agreements that regulate relationships between parents and their surrogate partners are detailed within those sections. A contract that relates to a surrogate or family in which at least one party resides in Texas is covered by our laws.
The intention of creating these laws was to create a more streamlined and straightforward method for allocating rights and responsibilities to those involved in surrogacy arrangements. The alternative was to have judges across Texas make their own rules, thereby setting ourselves up for having hundreds of different courts with their regulations in place to govern an area of family law that would be expanding dramatically in the following years.
The type of contract that may be agreed to and the parental rights of new parents and the surrogate are outlined in this set of laws. A mother, a father, a gestational mother, her spouse (if any), as well as egg/sperm donors are all relevant persons to be concerned with, and our State Legislature sought to guide all parties involved with this process.
For starters, the child's intended parents conceived and born via a surrogate must be married. They must show evidence that they cannot develop and carry a child to term without an unreasonable risk of harm to the child or mother. A court-appointed representative typically conducts a home study of the mother and father-to-be.
Surrogate vs. Gestational mother
A surrogate is a woman who will carry the child to term and supply the egg used in conception herself. A gestational mother takes the child but provides no biological material involved initially. Texas allows gestational mothers to be involved in the surrogacy agreements that are the subject of this blog post.
As I'm sure you have seen in television shows and movies, there can be a possibility that a surrogate mother would be unwilling to part with the child that is a part of them.
As far as rights that a gestational mother has in this scenario, two basic ones need to be detailed here:
- No gestational agreement may limit the right of the mother to make decisions to protect her health or the health of the embryo (Texas Family Code section 160.754(g)
- If she is married, the gestational mother (and her husband) may choose to terminate a gestational agreement before the pregnancy begins. (Texas Family Code section 160.759). This is true even after a court has already approved a contract.
Once a court has validated an agreement, all of the parties- the gestational mother, her spouse, the intended parents, and any donors must sign the agreement. The intended parents have rights to be enforced by this agreement as well.
So long as a court finds that the required evidence has been provided showing that they, as a couple, could not conceive and give birth to a child independently without assistance and the agreement has been entered into willingly by all parties, a court will approve and validate the deal. The validation of the agreement means that any children born under the contract are legally the children of the intended parents rather than the birth mother and her spouse if she is married.
The result of a gestational agreement: A baby is born to two happy parents
Assuming that the pregnancy allows for live birth, the child will be legal offspring of the intended parents as if the intended mother had physically given birth to the child herself. No reference to the gestational mother is made on the child's birth certificate, and no rights are afforded to her legally.
While this may seem harsh considering what the gestational mother went through as far as the pregnancy and birth involved, it is part of the agreement that all parties knowingly and willingly entered into more than nine months prior. In an age where so many people would like to be parents and are unable to for various reasons, gestational agreements assist these future parents in achieving their goals as straightforward and stress-free as possible.
Questions on surrogacy/gestational agreements? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you and your spouse find yourself in a position where you are interested in moving forward with a gestational agreement to have a child, please consider hiring an attorney to help yourself in this process. As discussed in this blog post, there are numerous steps and many opportunities to miss details in a long and demanding process. Having an experienced family law attorney by your side can provide you with confidence that your goals will be met on time.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, stands ready to represent you and your family in this or any other type of family law scenario. We offer free of charge consultations with one of our licensed family law attorneys. Contact us today to learn more about our office and the services provided to our clients.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Texas Adoption Lawyers
The adoption process can be daunting at times. You don't have to face it alone. The attorneys at The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, can help you navigate the process and create your perfect family. If you are in the greater Houston area and are interested in learning more, contact us today to speak directly with one of our adoption attorneys about your case.
Our Spring, Texas Adoption Lawyers are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Texas Adoption Cases in Spring, Texas or surrounding areas, including Harris County, including Cypress, Klein, Humble, Tomball, the FM 1960 area, North Houston; and Montgomery County, including Conroe and The Woodlands; as well as the surrounding counties of Fort Bend, Grimes, Waller, and Washington, contact us today to speak directly with one of our family law attorneys about your case.