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Navigating Surrogacy Laws in Virginia: A Comprehensive Guide for Intended Parents

Surrogacy, a method of assisted conception, has gained prominence in recent years as a way for intended parents to fulfill their dream of having a child. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, legislation exists to regulate surrogacy arrangements and protect the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. In this blog post, we will provide an easily understood guide to the key aspects of surrogacy law in Virginia.

Understanding the Terminology

Before diving into the specifics of the law, let's clarify some important terms used in the legislation:

  1. Assisted Conception: Any pregnancy resulting from medical technology, whether in vivo or in vitro, that replaces sexual intercourse as the means of conception. It includes various procedures like in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and embryo transfer.
  2. Compensation: Payment of any valuable consideration for services in excess of reasonable medical and ancillary costs.
  3. Donor: An individual, other than a surrogate, who contributes the sperm or egg used in assisted conception.
  4. Gestational Mother: The woman who gives birth to the child, regardless of her genetic relationship to the child.
  5. Embryo: The organism resulting from the union of sperm and an ovum from the first cell division until approximately the end of the second month of gestation.
  6. Intended Parent: A married couple or unmarried individual who enters into an agreement with a surrogate to be the parent of any child born through assisted conception, regardless of the genetic relationships involved.
  7. Surrogacy Contract: An agreement between the intended parent, a surrogate, and her spouse (if any), wherein the surrogate agrees to be impregnated through assisted conception, carry the fetus, and relinquish custody and parental rights to the child.

Parentage of a Child Resulting from Assisted Conception

The law in Virginia provides specific guidelines for determining the parentage of a child born through assisted conception. The general rules are as follows:

  1. Gestational Mother: The woman who carries and gives birth to the child is legally considered the mother.
  2. Spouse of the Gestational Mother: The spouse of the gestational mother is considered the child's other parent unless the spouse contests the surrogacy agreement within two years of discovering the child's birth and proves non-consent to the assisted conception.
  3. Donor: A sperm or egg donor is not considered the parent of the child unless the donor is also the spouse of the gestational mother.

Approval of Surrogacy Contracts

For surrogacy contracts to be legally binding, they must be approved by the court. The intended parent, surrogate, and her spouse (if any) must submit a joint petition to the circuit court in the county or city where at least one party resides. The court will consider factors such as the parties' fitness, medical evaluations, and counseling before approving the contract.

Termination of Surrogacy Contracts

Surrogacy contracts may be terminated by either party for cause. The court will vacate the contract upon receiving written notice of termination from any party involved.

Surrogate Brokers and Compensation

Virginia law strictly prohibits surrogate brokers, who act as intermediaries between intended parents and surrogates, from accepting compensation for their services. Violation of this law is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Additionally, surrogate brokers found in violation may be liable for three times the amount of compensation they would have received under the contract.

Surrogacy in the Commonwealth of Virginia is subject to well-defined legislation aimed at protecting the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. Intended parents, surrogates, and donors can navigate the surrogacy process with confidence, knowing that the law provides clear guidelines and safeguards for everyone's interests. If you are considering surrogacy in Virginia, it is essential to seek legal advice from a knowledgeable attorney to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.

Please note that this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. For personalized guidance on surrogacy in Virginia, call Carroll and Nuttall, PC, at 703-273-7007.


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