Legal representation (2 stages): The intended parents and surrogate must be represented by separate attorneys.
1) Contract stage
During this stage of legal representation, and depending on who she represents, Judith will draft a surrogacy contract for the intended parents or review a surrogacy contract on behalf of the surrogate specific to each arrangement and needs. Once a surrogacy contract is properly executed (signed) by all parties to the agreement, a legal clearance letter will be drafted and sent to the fertility clinic to notify the clinic that an enforceable legal contract has been executed. The legal clearance letter releases the clinic to proceed with an embryo transfer cycle and, in short, the surrogate is cleared to begin embryo transfer cycle medications.
2) Determination of parentage stage
Early in the second trimester, depending on who she represents, Judith will draft a parentage petition and supporting documents on behalf of the intended parents or review a parentage petition on behalf of the surrogate. The parentage petition and supporting documents will be signed by the parties and submitted to the court by the intended parents’ attorney. The parentage petition requests that the court sign an Order that determines that the intended parents are the legal and natural parents of their child born through surrogacy. The signed court Order directs the Department of Vital Statistics to insert the intended parents’ names on their child’s birth certificate. The signed Order also determines that the surrogate and her partner/spouse are not the legal parents of the child carried and delivered by the surrogate and she is/they are thus released from legal and financial responsibilities of the child’s parentage. The Order regarding determination of parentage is significant in that it protects each parties’ interests regarding legal rights and responsibilities of parentage, inheritance and asset protection, and other important legal interests.
For international intended parents returning with their child to their country of citizenship, intended parents must seek the assistance of legal counsel in their home country no later than 16 weeks gestation in order to assist Judith in determining parentage identification on their child’s birth certificate, and for their international attorney to address and secure their parental rights and their child’s citizenship and immigration in their home country.