Legal Resources for Donation & Surrogacy

RSC strongly recommends that you understand and protect your legal rights during the third-party services process and consult with a lawyer who specializes in surrogacy issues.

It is in the best interests of all parties to obtain experienced legal counsel to prepare a binding legal contract and to obtain a court order in all surrogacy arrangements.

Typically, the egg donor, surrogate and/or intended parents each have their own lawyers. Your doctor will need a “clearance letter” from your lawyer to confirm that an agreement has been executed by all of the parties.

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The purpose of a legal contract

Parentage under California law is governed in most cases by the intent of the parties. A written agreement is the clearest way to state the intention of the parties and address potential questions that may arise down the road such as:

  • Who has the disposition rights to any unused frozen embryos?
  • Are there any limitations on those disposition rights?
  • What is the obligation of an egg donor if she learns of a genetic disease in her family 10 years after the baby’s birth?
  • What if the egg donor or surrogate fails to follow your doctor’s instructions for treatments or procedures?

Without a legal contract

  • Intended parents are not considered the legal parents of the child.
  • The hospital treats the surrogate as the legal parent of the child and all medical records reflect the surrogate as the legal parent.
  • Intended parents are unable to obtain wrist bands from the hospital allowing them to visit with the newborn child.
  • If the court order is not obtained in a timely fashion and the child is born premature and in the intensive care nursery, the intended parents are unable to visit the child.
  • The child is not covered by the intended parents’ health insurance.
  • The intended parents are not named as the parents on the birth certificate and they will have to adopt the child.
  • If the child is born with health problems, the surrogate is the legal decision-maker instead of the intended parents.

What to expect from a lawyer

Your lawyer will draft and negotiate a contract to meet your individual needs and concerns. It will cover the specific obligations of each party and address issues that may arise in the future. Your lawyer will write a “clearance letter” to your doctor to confirm that an agreement has been properly executed by all of the parties.

Concerns about additional legal expenses

Compared to the expenses of fertility care, these legal fees are a relatively minor expense. Most lawyers will charge a flat fee based on the services to be provided so you don’t have to worry that if your situation is more complicated or takes longer to negotiate that you will have to pay more than you budgeted.

Legal services

Law Offices of Diane Michelsen
3685 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 203
Lafayette, CA 94549-4133
(925) 945-1880 Fax (925) 956-5201
Ora Prochovnick
offices in SF and Pleasant Hill
Mary Cedarblade
P.O. Box 477
Fairfax, CA 94978
(415) 459-8994 Fax (415) 459-8995
Deborah H. Wald
San Francisco Office
88 Kearny, Suite 1475
San Francisco, CA 94108
Ph: (415) 648-3097
Fax: (415) 648-3098
Shannon M. Matteson
Stocks and Colburn
3033 Fifth Avenue, Suite 430
San Diego, CA 92103
Direct: (925) 297-4626
Office: (619) 231-2085
Fax: (619) 231-2024
Tamara Daney, Attorney at Law
100 Leo Way
Oakland, CA 94611
(510) 597-1145
Law Offices of Vorzimer, Masserman, & Chapman
23035 Ventura Blvd.
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(818) 999-1950

NOTE: RSC does not recommend or endorse any vendor, physician, tests, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on this referral list. No representation or warranty is made, either expressly or tacitly, for the completeness or correctness of the information contained herein.