Close Menu

Zwierzchowski & Nguyen

Free Initial Consultation: 562-426-6522

Assisted Reproduction Laws in Long Beach, California

Assisted Reproduction Technology (“ART”) per Family Code section 7606 means conception by means other than sexual intercourse either with the help of a medical professional or DIY at home (egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation, surrogacy). Our firm handles all types of agreements and parentage actions in the course of ART family formation.

On January 1, 2016, California implemented AB 960 into law, which was designed to protect families formed with the use of ART. Family Code provides forms to use for couples using donated reproductive material (Fam. Code Section 7613.5). If you are planning to conceive using a donated sperm or egg, seeking legal advice prior to such conception is an important step in your family formation process. California protects families formed using ART, however, other states may not recognize non-genetic or non-birth parents. It is vital to secure parentage through parentage judgments or adoptions.

FAQ about ART conceptions:

Q: If we conceive using a sperm or an ovum donation and one of us gives birth to a child, how do we protect the legal rights of the non-birth parent?

Both partners must sign a written agreement, in which the non-birth parent gives consent to assisted reproduction. AB 960 protects both married and unmarried couples.

Family Code section 7613.5 provides forms for couples to use. Forms must be notarized.

Q: If we plan to ovum share, how do we protect our legal rights?

If one partner provides the egg and the other partner gives birth to the child (ovum sharing), both individuals are protected under California law if there is clear evidence that both individuals intended to become parents. Family Code section 7613.5 provides forms to use for such conceptions.

Q: If we use sperm from a sperm bank, are we protected? 

Using sperm from a sperm bank or a medical doctor (if the sperm donor is not married/in a domestic partnership with the birth parent), ensures that the sperm donor will not be considered a legal parent in California. A known sperm donor obtained through a sperm bank is not considered a legal parent as well.

Q: How do we ensure that a sperm donor will not have parental rights?

If you are using sperm from a friend (known donor) either as a couple or a single woman, you should proceed with caution. A written agreement signed before conception is the best way to ensure that the sperm donor will not have legal parentage status. In the absence of a written agreement prior to conception, the court will find no legal parent status of the sperm donor upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that there was an oral agreement prior to conception that the sperm donor would not be a legal parent and the child was conceived through assisted reproduction.

However, if the sperm donor lives with the child and holds the child out as his child, even if he signed a written agreement/entered into an oral agreement, he may have a claim to parentage.

Sperm donor who is or could be considered to be a legal parent can give up such rights during the course of adoption by the birth-parents partner.

Q: Should we obtain a judgment of parentage or adoption to secure our parentage rights?

If the law is followed in California (Family Code section 7613.5 and other sections), your rights are protected in California. However, it is strongly advised to obtain a judgment of parentage or adoption to secure legal parentage rights in other states in case of travel, emergency, or another life event.

Surrogacy

California surrogacy law is codified in Family Code section 7960. To ensure compliance with these laws, it is best to seek the assistance of an experienced family formation attorney (contact us). The information provided below is a general overview and should not be relied on as legal advice. Despite the fact that California is the most surrogacy-friendly state, there are still many pitfalls to avoid.

Surrogacy has been legalized in California in 2013 and has since become one of the most commonly used assisted reproduction methods for many families.

Traditional (partial) Surrogacy

Traditional surrogacy means that the surrogate mother uses her own egg, which is then inseminated by either the intended father’s sperm or by a donor’s sperm, and after the birth of the child, must relinquish her rights to the child. Traditional surrogacy became much less common than gestational surrogacy mostly because of the emotional and legal complexities. However, single men, same-sex couples, and women, who cannot produce healthy eggs still use traditional (partial) surrogacy to form or enlarge their families. It is not very well regulated in California and therefore, the risks involved are greater.

Heterosexual couples or women who can produce healthy eggs but cannot safely carry a pregnancy to term usually choose gestational surrogacy.

Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy is very clearly defined by California law and thus can be safely pursued to form a family. Gestational surrogacy means that the surrogate mother is not genetically related to the child. Often surrogate mother is referred to as surrogate carrier. The embryo is created by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) using the sperm and egg of the intended parents and then transferred to the surrogate carrier.

Gestational surrogacy is most often used by:

  • people who have struggled with infertility
  • single people who want to become parents
  • same-sex couples
  • anyone who is unable to safely carry a pregnancy to term
  • people who do not want a genetic link between a surrogate and the child

Second-Parent Adoptions

This process is most commonly used by same-sex couples. Birth parent or biological parent remains the same and either the spouse or domestic partner becomes the adoptive parent. You must be married or in a registered domestic partnership at the time of the birth of the child to qualify for this process. You must obtain either a judgment of parentage of second-parent adoption to ensure legal parentage rights outside of California (if you travel or move outside of state)even if the child was conceived during a marriage or RDP .

Streamline adoption has been implemented in 2015 to help couples who were either married or in domestic partnerships at the time of the birth of the child. It only applies if one of the spouses/DP gave birth to the child (different process needs to be followed for surrogacy).

This paperwork-only process eliminates the home study investigation, background check, or court hearing. The judge may still order all three or selected one if there is good reason for it.

What forms are filed?

California courts provide forms that you can use to file for a simplified adoption. The form ADOPT-050-INFO provides a checklist. Even though the process has been simplified and in most case, couples can complete it on their own. It is important to consult with an attorney to ensure that it is done correctly. Simplified does not mean simple. We offer flat fee services for any second-parent adoptions. Contact us to discuss.

Contact an attorney if any of the following is true:

  • There is a biological father, especially if he lives outside of California or is in the armed forces;
  • The court orders you to have a hearing or home investigation;
  • One of the parents or the known donor is or may be eligible to be a member or citizen of an American Indian tribal nation; or
  • There is another parent whose rights will be terminated in the adoption who doesn’t consent to the adoption or who wants to maintain contact with the child under a Contact After Adoption Agreement.

What if we don’t qualify for this simplified process? 

If you do not qualify for this simplified process, you still need an adoption to protect your rights as a parent. If you married or registered as domestic partners after your child’s birth, you can use the regular stepparent adoption process to protect the non-birth or nonbiological parent’s rights. If you are not married or registered as domestic partners, the second, nonbiological or non-birth parent can do a “second parent adoption,” which is the 3 same process as an independent adoption. If your child has more than two parents you can protect all parents’ rights through an adoption, but you cannot use the streamlined process. We recommend that you speak with an attorney about the process. If there is another parent, such as a biological father, who does not agree to the adoption, you cannot use the simplified process. You must file a regular stepparent or second parent adoption.

Related Links:

When Should I Consult a Certified Family Mediator in California?

Attorney Marketing Network