Recently, a Wisconsin judge pulled a married same-sex couple from Virginia into an eleven-month long legal battle over their parental rights. A woman from Wisconsin had agreed to be the couple’s surrogate and delivered their son last year. Judge Jim Troupis was assigned to their case in Wisconsin. Troupis viewed surrogacy as a form of human trafficking, and obstructed their legal proceedings, costing the couple hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ultimately, the judge retired and the new judge assigned to the matter overturned Troupis’ “faulty” opinion.
The couple both had good jobs, had been together for 25 years, and were already raising two daughters from previous surrogacies. They received the frozen embryo as a gift from a heterosexual couple they knew well. This case was highly unusual, because all the parties were happy with the arrangement except for the judge. One of the fathers quit his job as a federal lobbyist for Capital One to manage the eleven-month long proceedings and protect their child. Fortunately, this case is an outlier among the thousands of surrogacy arrangements made every year in the United States.
Surrogacy Laws Are Highly Varied
Currently, there is no federal law governing surrogacy. In New Jersey, the infamous “Baby M” case states a mother cannot contract away her parental rights. New Jersey does allow someone to pay the costs associated with having a baby such as doctor and hospital bills, psychological counseling and maternity clothes for the surrogate mother. Depending on the situation, it may even be allowable to buy a new car for the surrogate mother so that she can get to her doctor appointments. The one thing that cannot be paid for is the mother’s parental rights. In New Jersey, there is a 72 hour waiting period after the baby is born before a biological parent can give up his or her parental rights. Depending on the type of surrogacy, traditional or gestational, the mother may or may not have parental rights. In a traditional surrogacy the surrogate’s egg is mixed with the father’s sperm, therefore, the surrogate has parental rights. In a gestational surrogacy, the egg of another woman is fertilized with the father’s sperm and implanted in the surrogate. Therefore, the mother is just the carrier of the embryo and has no parental rights regarding the soon to be baby. Legally, the type of surrogate you use, defines your parental rights.
New Jersey Family Law Attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Surrogate Parents.
The highly qualified New Jersey LGBT lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. assist clients with all types of family law matters. Whether you are a same-sex couple seeking to enter a surrogacy arrangement, or whether you are seeking alimony after a divorce, we are prepared to help you achieve your goals. We have a successful track record of assisting our clients with a broad spectrum of family law issues. For a private consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online today.