Ralph M. Tsong
Why California Is a Surrogacy Friendly State
By: Ralph M. Tsong, Principal Attorney at Tsong Law Group
California is one of a few states in the United States that recognizes surrogacy agreements.
A surrogacy agreement is between the intended parents and the surrogate. Under the agreement, the surrogate agrees to be implanted with one or more frozen embryos and carry the fetus (or multiples) to gestation, in exchange for compensation. Under the agreement, the intended parents are recognized as the natural parents of the child, and the surrogate has no parental rights to the child. This is the case even if the surrogate carries a child that is not biologically related to the intended parents.
California first recognized surrogacy agreements in 1993, after the case of Johnson v. Calvert. There, the intended parents, who had their own embryo implanted into the surrogate, and the surrogate had a falling out with the surrogate refusing to give the child to the intended parents until she was paid. The intended parents filed a maternity suit to name them as parents. The California Supreme Court held that the issue of maternity turned on the intention of the parties in creating the surrogacy agreement. The contract was held to be enforceable and not against public policy. This case also makes clear that if the intended parents attempt to back out of a valid surrogacy agreement part-way through, their legal status as the natural parents remains intact.
Because of the clear recognition of parental rights to the intended parents in a surrogacy agreement, California has been one of the most favorable states for surrogacy arrangements.
California’s Family Code was recently amended to recognize “assisted reproductive agreements for gestational carriers.” Under the law, both the surrogate and the intended parent must be represented by separate licensed attorneys of their choosing. The surrogate should not undergo the embryo transfer until the agreement is in place and signed. The good news is surrogacy contracts are presumptively valid under California law.
Tsong Law Group is knowledgeable in the drafting and reviewing of surrogacy contracts. If you don’t know where to start, we have contacts to refer hopeful parents to for the assisted reproductive procedures and to find surrogate carriers. If you are looking to refer a surrogate client to an attorney, we can represent a surrogate carrier competently and diligently