It’s a big decision to have a child through surrogacy with a very anxious nine months as you worry about another person carrying your child. Whether you have a traditional surrogacy or a gestational one, it’s essential to know what legal steps you need to take to ensure that you’re granted your full parental rights after the birth of the child.
To be seen as the child’s legal parents, you must get the court to acknowledge that fact. You need to know what legal steps to take before the birth in order to save time and energy afterwards when you officially take custody of your child.
The Uniform Parentage Act
The Uniform Parentage Act is part of Georgia’s statutory law. It’s important to know for custody reasons. The law states that any woman who gives birth to a child is automatically considered the child’s legal mother because she is clearly the biological parent. If she’s married at the time of birth, the father is automatically given legal rights.
If the couple isn’t married, the father has to go through a formal paternity and legitimation process to be granted custody and legal rights as the parent.
What happens in a surrogacy? In a traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother is the child’s biological mother so that she would have parental rights under Georgia law. In a gestational surrogacy, the more common surrogacy today, the surrogate parent gets pregnant via in-vitro fertilization (IVF), and she is not related to the child biologically.
To secure legal and custody rights for the child, any rights that the surrogate has, need to be terminated and custody transferred to the parents who have paid for the surrogate services.
What Is a Legal Parentage Order?
Gaining legal rights is relatively straightforward. The surrogate signs paperwork indicating she’s not the biological parent and gives up any rights she may have. The attorney for the intended parents submits all documentation to the court, and parentage is now legally defined.
In a traditional surrogacy, since the surrogate mother is also the biological parent, a legal parentage order is essential. Parents should also be prepared to potentially go through a traditional adoption, if the traditional surrogacy paperwork does not comport with the standard to have legal rights via a legal parentage order.
A petition for legal parentage may be filed during pregnancy or after birth and its effect, clearly establishes legal parentage. The order usually contains:
- A declaration that the intended parents are to be considered the legal parents.
- An order to the hospital, office of vital records and social security administration that the intended parents are to be listed on the child’s birth certificate.
- Gives the intended parents legal custody for medical decisions for their child.
- Resolves any outstanding insurance issues.
- Permits for the intended parents to take the child with them when they leave the hospital after the birth.
After the parentage order is filed, the only remaining legal requirement should be relinquishing all rights by the surrogate mother. Because she has given up any legal or parental rights, and because the surrogacy agreement is a contract under Georgia law, she has no legal standing to change her mind and keep the child after the child’s birth.
Getting Intended Parental Rights is Easier with an Attorney
Surrogacy law can be complicated, and while some parents decide to handle their surrogacy independently, others choose to seek out the advice of a family law attorney. An experienced attorney can help answer questions that you may have about intended parental rights. They can assist in drafting documents related to legal parentage orders and answer questions about documents you have drafted for the court.
If you’re the intended parents of a child and seek legal and custody rights, contact Family Matters Law Group, a trusted parental rights attorney. We have extensive experience in child custody cases and are ready to fight for you.