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What prospective parents need to know about surrogacy in Arizona

Arizona Congressman Trent Franks has put surrogacy in the news lately after accusations that he tried unsuccessfully to convince two different female employees to carry a baby for his wife and him. Franks, who has announced that he'll resign from his seat in January, reportedly went so far as to offer one woman $5 million to be a surrogate for the couple.

Ironically, unlike some other states, Arizona law doesn't recognize contracts between surrogates and the person or couple for whom they agree to have a child. That's not to say that the parties can't draw up an agreement. However, if it's contested, it can't be legally enforced.

Of course, surrogacy does exist here in Arizona. There are variations of surrogacy, depending on the situation with the "intended parents" (as they're referred to by the courts.) For example, if a woman is unable to carry a child to term, they may use their own eggs and sperm to impregnate a surrogate. In these cases, people can ask a court to declare them the legal parents of the child, even before it's born.

If only one or neither of the intended parents is the biological father or mother of a child born via surrogacy, as is the case with same-sex couples or infertile heterosexual couples, they can petition to adopt the child after the surrogate has given birth. Of course, if the surrogate mother has second thoughts about giving up the child, there could be serious problems.

That's why doctors who participate in fertility procedures involving surrogate mothers generally recommend that all of the parties get an attorney involved "to make sure everybody understands what Arizona law is, what everybody is to do, and what everyone's expectations are," according to one Phoenix attorney.

If you are considering growing your family via surrogacy or helping others do so, it's essential to understand the intricacies of our state laws and court rulings on the subject. An experienced Arizona family law attorney can provide essential guidance.

Source: azcentral.com, "Arizona law and surrogacy: What you need to know," Ken Alltucker, The Republic, Dec. 11, 2017

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