Helping women touched by cancer become mothers.
Third Party Reproductive Law

Third Party Reproduction refers to the process where someone uses a sperm donation, egg (oocyte) donation, embryo donation / adoption, gestational carrier or any combination of the aforementioned to have a child. The third party’s involvement is limited to the reproductive process and does not extend into the raising of the child. Each option requires the use of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to successfully produce a child. A dedicated Assisted Reproductive Technology attorney will protect the interests of all involved parties, including the unborn children.

Third Party Reproductive Laws are still fairly new, differ widely from state to state as well as country to country and are often unclear and even controversial. Northwestern University School of Law issued a paper entitled, “Assisted Reproduction and the Law: Disharmony on a Divisive Social Issue.” The report is located here: http://www.law.northwestern.edu/lawreview/v100/n1/465/LR100n1HShapo.pdf

It is imperative for cancer survivors to secure the advice and legal representation of a specialized, qualified Assisted Reproduction attorney. Most family law practitioners are unqualified for your case, even whey they are willing to work with you. Likewise, most third party reproductive lawyers do not cover adoption; thus if you are seeking to adopt a child or embryos, seeking the legal counsel of an adoption attorney is recommended. When the process involves multiple jurisdictions the lawyer may need to be licensed to practice in each state concerned, as laws may be conflicting from one state to another.  This may require collaboration between two or more attorneys, including when multiple countries are involved.

Attorneys specialized in these matters will:

  • Advise you of your rights and responsibilities
  • Communicate with your doctor, agency and clinic regarding the status of their contracts
  • Review and explain all contractual agreements
  • Prepare contracts between you and your surrogate or donor(s)
  • Prepare and submit all court filings
  • Ensure the baby’s birth certificate (in surrogacy and adoption cases) is filed in your name
  • Ensure proper citizenship of the child
  • Provide other legal services, or referrals, as required

Legal services related to ART typically run from $6,000 to $10,000, but can vary greatly depending on the jurisdiction. Lawyers who bill clients by the hour will often end up costing more and their services will be difficult to budget.  Many reproductive lawyers offer a flat-fee arrangement, making it easier for you to determine approximate costs up front.  Although the Internet provides many discounted or free legal services and contracts, Fertile Action strongly advises against this approach.

For a member directory of Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, visit http://www.theafa.org/advice–support/find-a-professional/ or contact the American Bar Association’s Family Law Section where you can locate adoption attorney’s and third party reproductive lawyers.

ABA Section of Family Law
321 N. Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 988-5145
Fax: (312) 988-6800
E-mail: familylaw@americanbar.org

Richard Vaughn, Esq. of the International Fertility Law Group contributed to this article. For more information about Mr. Vaughn’s law practice, please visit his website.