What are Michigan's laws regarding surrogacy and parental rights?

Understanding Surrogacy Laws in Michigan

Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction where an individual or couple (the intended parents) arrange for another woman (the surrogate) to carry and deliver a child on their behalf. In Michigan, surrogacy is particularly complex due to the lack of concise statutory laws directly addressing the practice. This necessitates a close inspection of existing statutes, case law, and contracts to understand the legal landscape surrounding surrogacy and parental rights in the state.

Legality of Surrogacy Contracts

Michigan's legal stance on surrogacy was historically shaped by the infamous 1988 'Baby M' case, which took place in New Jersey but influenced surrogacy laws nationwide. While Michigan does not have specific legislation that prohibits surrogacy, it does consider contracts for compensated surrogacy to be void and unenforceable based on the Michigan Surrogate Parenting Act of 1988 (MCL 722.851). This means that any agreement where a surrogate is paid for her services beyond medical and ancillary expenses is not recognized by Michigan courts.

Voluntary Surrogacy Agreements

However, voluntary or altruistic surrogacy agreements, where the surrogate is not receiving compensation, may exist in a legal gray area. These agreements often involve detailed legal contracts outlining each party's expectations, responsibilities, and parental rights post-birth. It's important for all parties involved to seek legal counsel when drafting such agreements to ensure their interests are protected.

Parental Rights Establishment

In Michigan, establishing parental rights in surrogacy arrangements can be complex. The intended parents must typically go through adoption proceedings or obtain a pre- or post-birth order to establish legal parentage. The type of surrogacy (gestational or traditional) and genetic ties to the child play significant roles in this process.

Gestational surrogacy, where the surrogate is not genetically related to the child, may allow intended parents to be declared the legal parents without going through adoption procedures if a pre-birth order is obtained. However, traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate is also the egg donor, likely requires intended parents to adopt the child, even if one parent is genetically related.

Protecting Parental Rights

To navigate Michigan's intricate laws and protect their parental rights, intended parents and surrogates should craft comprehensive surrogacy agreements with the assistance of specialized attorneys. These agreements should address potential complications and clearly articulate the intent regarding the establishment of parental rights.

It's imperative for anyone considering surrogacy in Michigan to stay updated on current laws and any legislative changes that may impact their arrangements. Consulting with legal professionals experienced in reproductive law will provide clarity and guidance throughout the surrogacy journey.