Having looked at exactly what surrogacy is, and what form it usually takes, we are now discussing what Michigan law has to say about surrogacy. Because commercial surrogacy is illegal in Michigan, while altruistic surrogacy is not, it’s important that you understand exactly what the law says about this subject.
What are the penalties for commercial surrogacy in Michigan?
Arranging a surrogacy contract in exchange for money in Michigan is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and possible fines of up to $50,000. However, if a woman agrees to carry a child for another couple, or for another woman, as an act of kindness, the law allows it. In this case, the surrogate mother may still legally expect to have all of her pregnancy related medical expenses covered by the adoptive couple or individual.
One final thing to bear in mind when considering surrogacy is this: because the law forbids anyone from making any kind of surrogacy contract here in Michigan, there is nothing that can be enforced in a court of law should either party change their mind. In other words, if the surrogate mother decides during the pregnancy or after the birth to keep the child, the court will support her choice. Also, on the flip side, if the adoptive family changes their mind after the birth, they cannot be forced to take the child.
How does a same-sex couple find a legal surrogate in Michigan?
For gay couples who are hoping to become parents, there are a number of options when it comes to finding a legal surrogate option. Some couples are lucky enough to have a trusted female friend who is willing to have a baby on their behalf so that they can become parents. However, carrying a child to term is a long and expensive process, and not everyone knows someone who is willing or able to make that sacrifice.
In this case, the next best option is to discuss your situation with a doctor who specializes in fertility treatments, or with personnel at a fertility center. Some fertility centers find surrogates for the prospective parents as part of their process, matching them based on strict criteria. If however, they do not provide surrogacy matching, they will be able to recommend some reliable and legal options for you.
Finally, there are a number of websites that allow people to search for willing surrogates in their area. However, because Michigan law prohibits commercial surrogacy, and the court does not recognize surrogacy agreements as binding, there is always a risk in pursuing this option. Again, be aware that if the surrogate mother you have selected changes her mind during the pregnancy or after the baby is born, the court will uphold her decision to keep the child.
We recommend that if you are considering pursuing surrogacy as an option for parenting, that you speak with a family law attorney who can spell out exactly what challenges and options you will be facing, should you choose this option.
Join us next time, when we will be looking at which parents are legally recognized by the state in a surrogacy situation, and how same-sex couples can remedy possible custody issues.