At Stanley-Wallace Law, we understand how important having a baby and starting a family is to you. But unfortunately, no matter how hard they try, some couples aren’t able to get pregnant without medical help.
In certain cases, that’s where gestational carriers, commonly referred to as surrogates, come in. Louisiana allows you to sign an official contract with the person who’s agreed to be your surrogate, but that process can sometimes be long and a bit confusing.
So what do you need to do to write a gestational carrier contract? And what can you expect from the process?
Our team of expert family law attorneys has broken down the legal process into 5 basic steps. Read on to find out how to write and sign an official gestational carrier contract so you and your surrogate can make your family a reality.
Knowing if you qualify
Louisiana Act No. 494 allows couples to enter into gestational carrier contracts with the person who’s agreed to act as their surrogate..
However, in order for this court protection to apply, the surrogacy has to meet certain requirements:
- The couple must be married
- They must use only their own gametes
- The couple must have been domiciled in the State of Louisiana for at least 180 prior to executing the Gestational Carrier Contract
What this means is that the court will not recognize a contract with a “genetic gestational carrier”– in other words, a surrogate who uses their own gametes to produce a child for the intended parents.
As a result, the act has come under fire for excluding same-sex couples and couples whose female partners are not able to produce gametes.
However, if you and your partner are married, and you can both provide the gametes needed to conceive the baby, then you are able to enter a gestational carrier contract!
Finding a surrogate
Once you know that you qualify, the next step is finding the right person to be your surrogate.
Act No. 494 has a few requirements for who can act as a surrogate, as well:
- The surrogate must be between the ages of 25 and 35
- The surrogate must have given birth to at least one baby before
- The surrogate must have been domiciled in the State of Louisiana for at least 180 prior to executing the Gestational Carrier Contract
There are plenty of online programs and organizations that can help put you in touch with qualified surrogate in your area or elsewhere. For example, Circle Surrogacy works with surrogates and parents around the country to make sure the right matches are found.
However, sometimes you might want to choose someone more personally close to you to join you on your parenting journey. The important thing is that you find someone who is aware of the risks involved, and is willing to negotiate a legally-enforceable gestational carrier contract with you.
Hiring an attorney
One of the most important steps you can take is finding legal representation, to represent your interests as parents, and also to protect your rights.
Ideally, you want to hire an attorney with experience in family law and in representing people involved with gestational carrier agreements– like our attorneys at Stanley-Wallace law.
We do not recommend trying to write your own contract or download a template from the internet. There are many complicated issues that could be left out or could remain unclear without an attorney’s involvement.
Writing and signing a contract
When it comes to actually writing and signing your gestational carrier contracts, there are a number of important issues you need to consider:
- What you can, and most importantly, cannot pay for in the surrogacy contract
- Other medical and personal expenses
- The health and safety of the surrogate and the baby
- Potential risks and liability if something goes wrong
- And many more
In addition, Louisiana law requires that both parties agree to the following terms:
- The surrogate must agree to reasonable medical evaluation and treatment during the pregnancy
- The surrogate must have undergone at least two counseling sessions
- The surrogate must agree to a post-birth counseling session
- The intended parents must agree and recognize that the gestational surrogate has the sole authority to make medical decisions during the term of the pregnancy as if she was a woman carrying her own biological child
- The intended parents must agree to accept custody and assume full parental rights to the child, regardless of any impairment
- The intended parents must agree to be recognized as the legal parents of the child
Once you have signed off on a contract, your attorney will help you file it and get it approved in court.
Having a baby
After the medical procedures and the hopeful birth of your beautiful baby, you just need an official sign-off from the court and the work of Stanley-Wallace Law is done.
As you can see, there are many considerations that go into a gestational carrier contract. It’s vital that you have an experienced family law attorney like those at Stanley-Wallace Law by your side, to help you make the decisions that are best for you, your partner, your surrogate, and your baby. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.