In Texas, surrogacy agreements are known as gestational agreements, and have multiple requirements to meet before moving forward with this life-changing process. Each state has different laws in place pertaining to surrogacy, and some states don't have any law on the topic whatsoever. If this endeavor is carried out in Texas, it's important to know what should be in place before moving forward.
Texas is considered to be one of the more surrogacy-friendly states, as gestational agreements are recognized by the State since a House Bill was signed into effect, amending the Texas Family Code.
If you are considering a gestational agreement, here are a few things to know and to take into consideration:
Gestational vs. Traditional Surrogacy
Only gestational surrogacy is protected under the Texas Family Code, meaning that the gestational mother participates in assisted reproduction, and does not have any biological relationship to the child born. Rather, the intended parents are egg and sperm donors, giving the gestational mother no genetic or legal ties to the child. Traditional surrogacy, in which a surrogate mother would have a biological tie to the child upon the child's birth, is not protected by law in Texas.
The laws in place in the state of Texas only protects intended parents who are married. Marriage is required by law in order to legalize a gestational agreement. A single person cannot be the intended parent to a gestational agreement.
The intended parents do not have to be residents of Texas in order to enter into a gestational agreement. As longs as either one of the intended parents or the surrogate is a resident of the state of Texas, a couple who resides in another state may be protected under a Texas gestational agreement.
Other Requirements to Work with a Surrogate Mother
Specific conditions must be present and validated in order for a couple to work with a surrogate. A woman is required to prove that she is unable to carry a child to term, or that she and/or the child would suffer harm if she became pregnant. The gestational mother must have previously experienced a birth free of complications, and be cleared to be physically capable of going through another successful pregnancy. While a physician is required to make all involved parties aware of potential complications presented by this process, the gestational carrier is entitled to make all health-related decisions for herself and for the child, not the intended parents.
There are many steps required of both the surrogate and the intended parents. Timing is very crucial - gestational agreements must be signed before conception, and at least 15 days before the implantation or transfer of eggs, sperm or embryos. A petition to validate the gestational agreement must be filed and validated by the judge within 300 days after the assisted reproduction occurred.
Ensuring all resources are protected and each step and deadline are adhered to is crucial. Working with a family law attorney who is experienced in gestational agreements is essential. One step missed could mean the entire agreement is invalidated. If you are ready to move forward with speaking to an experienced attorney, contact Hendershot, Cannon, Martin & Hisey, P.C.