Surrogacy is now legal in New York

Meet the Child – Parent Security Act

Did you know that surrogacy is now legal in New York?  This is great news because it means that there are even more avenues for New Yorkers to build families with the help of some new legislation. We’d like to take a moment to introduce you to the Child – Parent Security Act. Implemented in February 2021, the Child – Parent Security Act allows compensated gestational surrogacy and repealed the state’s previous statute which declared compensated surrogacy contracts unenforceable. Governor Cuomo commented on the legislation saying, “For far too long, LGBTQ+ New Yorkers and New Yorkers struggling with fertility were denied the opportunity to start a family because of arbitrary and archaic laws and I couldn’t be prouder of the way New York came together to say we won’t stand for this any longer, New York is a loving state and we’re proud to lead the charge for fairness and equality last year. With this law now in effect, no longer will anyone will be blocked from the joys of starting a family and raising children simply because of who they are.

What does this really mean for families in New York? That families unable to conceive biologically will be able to hire a surrogate to give birth to their child. There are no restrictions on marital status in regard to who may employ a surrogate, thus giving access to families of all shapes and sizes.

How does the law do this? The new legislation establishes legal criteria for surrogacy agreements to help provide the strong protections for both parents and surrogates and ensuring that there is informed consent at each step. The law creates a Surrogates’ Bill of Rights, to uphold the right of surrogates to make their own healthcare decisions, including whether to terminate or continue a pregnancy. These rights also mandate that surrogates have access to comprehensive health insurance and independent legal counsel of their choosing, all paid for by the intended parents. The Child – Parent Security Act creates a streamlined process for establishing parenthood when one of the individuals is a non-biological parent, through a process known as “second parent adoption.”

How does it work? The family wanting to have a child, a.k.a. the intended parents or “IPs”, do some research to find the surrogate that’s right for their needs. Typically, the IPs will connect with a surrogacy agency that they feel comfortable with. The family may choose to use any combination of egg/sperm whether belonging to the intended parents or a third-party donor, not the surrogate. From there, with the help of an attorney, the intended parents will draft a gestational carrier agreement and negotiate it with the surrogate and her attorney. This agreement will contain very detailed information about the terms of the surrogacy relationship, expectations from all parties involved, insurance, fees, costs, monetary stuff, etc. The IPs can also Petition the Court for a Pre-Birth Order (“PBO”).  Essentially a Pre- Birth Order is used to establish the legal parentage of a child born via surrogacy and is preferred by many intended parents. The Process typically begins at week 14 of the pregnancy and if the Order is granted it becomes effective at the moment of birth. A hearing will then be scheduled that the parties will attend with their attorneys. If the court finds that the gestational carrier agreement and PBO meet the specifications of New York law, the court will issue a judgment of parentage declaring that the intended parents are the legal parents of the child at the time of birth. The Court will also affirm that the surrogate and any donors are not the child’s legal parents.

Are there any restrictions? Yes, there are a few to be aware of:

  • The new law does not apply to a surrogate who uses her own egg to conceive. This is also know as “genetic surrogacy” or “traditional surrogacy.” Traditional surrogacy is still banned in the state of New York but parties may establish parentage through adoption
  • At least one of the intended parents must be a US citizen or permanent resident and a resident of New York for at least 6 months prior to the execution of the surrogacy contract. If only one intended parent has lived in New York for 6 months, the surrogate (who also must be a US citizen or permanent resident) must have been a resident of New York for at least 6 months.
  • Prior to conception, all donors must agree with the intended parent that the donor has no parental or proprietary interest in the gametes or embryos.  If the donation was initially made anonymously to a cryobank or similar facility under a doctor’s supervision, a letter from the doctor or facility explaining that the donation is anonymous will be accepted as consent.
  • IP’s must pay a gestational carrier at a “reasonable rate” for up to 8-weeks after the baby is born. Ideally, attorneys for both the IP’s and surrogate will layout the details of compensation and timelines at the beginning of the relationship. Be aware that IP’s must also pay for their surrogate’s legal fees, health, and life insurance during the pregnancy and for 1 year after birth.

Have more questions about surrogacy in New York? Give our office a call! We would be honored to help you as you plan your family.

Are You Ready to Send Your Kids Back to School In-Person?

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it. How do we get back to “normal”? Do we dive in? Is it too soon? What once might have been a simple answer has now become a debate of principle and safety.

So, how do you go about navigating the argument of whether or not to allow your child to go back to in- person learning?

Start by recognizing that both yourself and your child’s other parent have valid concerns and considerations.  Come to the discussion ready to truly “hear” each other’s views and then try to understand why they feel the way they do.  

 Here are a few points of discussion to get you started.

Potential Reasons to Return to In-Person LearningPotential Reasons to Continue Virtual – Learning
The structure of the live classroom can lead to increased focus because there are fewer distractions.

It’s easier for students to get their teacher’s immediate attention.

Socialization. Kids need to be around other kids- period.

Studying in-person reduces eye-strain caused by staring at the computer screen all day.

In-person classes help reduce the need for childcare while parents are at work.

Returning to school increases access to free meals, internet, and other resources for low-income students.

Teachers don’t have to waste learning time on troubleshooting technical issues and making sure everyone is able to “log in.”

Studies have shown that the students who are in the physical classroom get more attention by default.

The privacy of the classroom allows for debate and student discussion with less potential for being recorded or overheard. This promotes a safe space for the exploration of ideas.
Parents can mitigate the risk of germ-spread and the threat of COVID-19 within their household.

There is no commute to and from school, (think- no more carpools or bus rides!)

Students don’t have to wear a mask or worry about social distancing rules amongst their immediate family.

Flexibility to study in any convenient location with an internet connection. As a result, there are more opportunities for the non-custodial parent to have increased visitation with the children.

Remote learning enables parents to be more involved with their child’s learning.

Some students learn better in a solo environment.

More time for family bonding.

More time for increased creativity and expression.

After you’ve shared your thoughts with your co-parent, consider doing the following:

  1. Ask your child how they feel about continuing remote learning or going back to school.  What do they think are the PROS or CONS of returning to in–person school?
  2. Consider your child’s feelings and determine whether going back to school in-person will help or hinder them emotionally.
  3. Is there something that you would need to change in order to feel more comfortable with one of the above PROS or CONS?

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer.  Being an effective co-parent means keeping the best interests of your child first while working together. It’s up to you both to decide what the best decision for your family really is.  Each family is unique, and it is okay if what works for your family isn’t what works for the family next door. As with any challenge in your co-parenting journey, what matters most is that the children are okay.  

Want to chat more about co-parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic?  Give us a call.