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Considering Alternative Reproduction? Make Sure You’ve Got Your Alternative Reproduction Legal Ducks in a Row

By Hannibal Heredia, Hedgepeth, Heredia & Rieder

Having a baby is an exciting, life-changing event, but any parent will tell you there are times when tensions run high. That's a bit of an understatement, right? But what if you can't conceive the natural way and need to add alternative reproduction methods into the mix? Those emotions are now heightened even further, because now outsiders are involved in the "process."

For the prospective parents, planning their legal strategy to secure their parental rights as soon as the baby is born is crucial. (On a side note, same sex couples face many of these obstacles as well as a few additional ones. We'll cover those in a future blog post.)

IMG 1065-1 herediaFor the purposes of this conversation, we'll define alternative reproduction as:

  • Artificial donor insemination (DI)
  • Surrogate parenting
  • Egg donation

What makes alternative reproduction so complicated legally? A marriage is complicated enough, so here we go into a situation where instead of involving only the mother and father, we're involving at least three people. Oh, and if a surrogate is married, that number could be four!

Here are the permutations:

  • Mother and sperm donor (father not genetically related to baby)
  • Father and egg donor/surrogate (mother not genetically related to baby)
  • Father and mother and surrogate

In Georgia, most clinics in this arena will require the parties delineate the legal relationships between all those whom are involved. Similarly, the attorneys representing the parties will seek from the clinics an identification of the genetic material involved in the pregnancy as part of the subsequent steps in the alternative reproduction process.

There are good reasons to retain representation at the planning stages in alternative reproduction, especially when using a surrogate:

  • In Georgia, when a baby is delivered from a woman's body, it is considered her baby. And if that woman is married, her husband is considered to be the father.
  • By lining up legal rights ahead of time, the attorney can request that a court sever the legal rights of the carrying surrogate (and her spouse if she has one) and obtain a pre-birth order to tell the hospital what's happening so they can set up the birth certificate correctly and allow the intended parents legally to begin parenting at birth.

Why the rush to have this taken care of at the time of birth? In the absence of a birth order, in cases where the surrogate carries the child to term, the surrogate's name may be placed on the birth certificate, and the parents may then be forced to go through a lengthy and expensive legal process to establish rights for their own child.

In cases where the married mother carries a child to term using a sperm donor, the husband is automatically considered the father. If the child is conceived using a donated egg but carried by the mother, the child is automatically considered the mother's. In both of those cases, no birth order is required, however termination of rights from any donors is still essential for parental peace of mind moving forward.

marketing-ducks-in-a-rowHaving a baby should be a joyous experience. A family law attorney educated in these processes can help you achieve that goal by planning ahead and securing parental rights at the time of birth, so you can immediately enjoy being legal parents to your little bundle of joy.

One Caveat: We'll be with you almost every step of the way ... but we can't really help with those middle-of-the-night diaper changes. You're on your own there!

Learn more: http://hhrfamilylaw.com/hhr-practice-areas/growing-your-family.html

Contact Hannibal Heredia at  or (404) 846-7025.

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