Starting a family is a dream for many people, and having children is a crucial step toward realizing that dream. Sometimes one’s health or social situation can prevent them from completing that first step. However, advances in science have made overcoming such obstacles possible, allowing people to bypass the fate to which their unfortunate circumstances would have otherwise sealed. Assisted reproduction technology (ART) lets people have children of their own using artificial means to begin the reproductive process.
IVF is a process where human reproductive cells are combined in a laboratory environment. Both men and women can take advantage of IVF through donors. Heterosexual couples who want to have children conceived from both of their genetic material often use IVF to get around fertility issues. Individuals who wish to become single parents, as well as same-sex couples, can utilize donor cells to conceive a child through IVF.
The individuals who use IVF to conceive a child are referred to as “intended parents.” Legal issues can arise in IVF cases when a donor tries to retain or assert parental rights by virtue of their genetic connection to a child born using ART.
Under California law, a man who qualifies as a “sperm donor” is not automatically deemed a child’s natural father based on his genetic connection with the child. A man qualifies as a sperm donor if he provided his reproductive cells to a physician or sperm bank, or signed a written agreement designating him as such and waiving his parental rights.
In California, a woman who donates their eggs for purposes of an ART arrangement is not considered the child’s parent unless her reproductive cells were given to her spouse or romantic partner or evidence shows that she intended to be a parent.
IVF is the jumping-off point for ART arrangements. The next step in the reproductive process involves pregnancy and delivery. Gestational surrogacy refers to an arrangement where an embryo fertilized through IVF is placed in a woman’s womb, who then carries the baby through pregnancy to term. The surrogate mother does not have a genetic connection to the child but is biologically connected to them.
Historically, parentage issues—namely paternity—depended on a person’s relationship to a child’s mother, who was identified as the person who delivered the child. ART upset the traditional methods of determining parentage by creating situations where a child could be biologically connected to a mother with whom they shared no genetic relationship.
Under California law, surrogate mothers are not necessarily considered to be the natural parent of the child they carried through pregnancy and delivered. Surrogates typically sign a written agreement that the intended parents of the child are the legal parents at the exclusion of the surrogate.
Surrogacy allows couples to have children despite the presence of circumstances that prevents the intended mother from carrying the baby herself. This method also allows lesbian couples to enter into a “co-maternity” arrangement, where one partner’s genetic material is used to create an embryo that is placed in the other partner’s womb.
Contact Neshanian Law Firm for More Information
If you need legal advice regarding parentage issues and parental rights, you should consult a dedicated attorney from The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc.. We have valuable experience handling cases involving California family law, including parentage and paternity matters.
To schedule a consultation about your case, call The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc. at (949) 577-7935 or contact us online today.