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Assisted Reproduction

Modern technology has provided many ways to become parents through assisted reproduction. Assisted reproduction means the conception and gestation of a child by any means other than sexual intercourse. It includes in-vitro fertilization (IVF), sperm or ovum donation, surrogacy and other means. People choose assisted reproduction for many reasons. When using assisted reproduction technology, it's important that all parties have a firm understanding of their responsibilities.

Washington Assisted Reproduction Lawyer

For the complex legal issues that can accompany assisted reproduction, Washington assisted reproduction lawyer Joyce Schwensen can assist you. Joyce Schwensen can help you draft the appropriate contracts to accurately reflect all parties' agreements. Call the Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen today at (206) 367-1065 to schedule a consultation.

Joyce Schwensen is based in Seattle.


Washington Assisted Reproduction Information Center


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Signing Surrogacy Contracts in Washington

Surrogacy is a process by which an embryo is implanted into the uterus of a woman, called the surrogate, who then carries the child to term and relinquishes the child to be raised by the intended parents. In most cases, the surrogate is not genetically related to the child. Rather, the embryo is created using the gametes — the egg and sperm — of the intended parents.

However, for some parents, such as same-sex couples, single parents or couples in which one parent is unable to provide a viable gamete, a gamete may be provided by a donor. In past practice, the surrogate often provided the egg. But this is no longer the preferred course of action because of the complex legal issues involved if the surrogate becomes unwilling after the birth to relinquish her parental rights. As the child’s biological mother the surrogate would have a stronger legal case for maintaining parental rights to the child than she would have if she had no biological relationship to the child.

When using surrogacy to give birth to a child, it's essential to have a well prepared written contract between all parties. The agreement must detail all terms, including reimbursement of the surrogate for any expenses. Under Washington law, a surrogate cannot be compensated. However, with a properly prepared agreement, the intended parents may be able to cover the surrogate’s expenses. A successful surrogacy will often depend upon the enforceability of the surrogacy contract. Joyce Schwensen can help you draft the appropriate surrogacy contract to accurately reflect all parties' agreements and comply with all the requirements of the law. Call theLaw Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen today at (206) 367-1065 to schedule a consultation.


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Agreements for Sperm and Egg Donors

Under Washington law, a woman can use donated sperm to become pregnant without the sperm donor having any legal rights to the child. Rather, the woman’s spouse or domestic partner will in most cases be considered to be a legal parent of the child. And the man who donated his sperm will have no legal responsibility for the child.  But problems can arise, especially where the sperm donation is not anonymous. For example, if the sperm donor later claims to have engaged in sexual intercourse with the woman, he might be found to have legal rights to the child.

It is vital to have a written contract that spells out the intended relationships between all the adults involved and the child, and assures that the birth certificate is properly issued. A properly prepared contract will address all the legal issues and help prevent possible conflicts that could continue until the child reaches adulthood.

A woman can also be a gamete donor. This involves medically stimulating ovum production in the donor and retrieving the ovum through minimally invasive surgery. The ova are then used to create embryos to be implanted into another woman’s uterus for gestation. Because this procedure cannot be done without medical assistance, an ovum donor cannot later claim that the child was not conceived with donated ovum. However, she could assert that she was intended to be a parent to raise the child, even though the child was gestated by another woman. For these and other legal reasons, it is important to have a well-drafted assisted reproduction contract when considering ovum donation to create a family.

Although less common, there are situations in which a sperm or egg donor is actually intended to be the parent of the child. In these cases, it is absolutely essential that the parties have a properly prepared contract as well as physician certification of the parties’ intentions, or the donor may not be recognized as a legal parent of the child.


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The Rights of Spouses in Assisted Reproduction

Under Washington law, if a woman gives birth through assisted reproduction, her spouse or registered domestic partner is usually recognized as a legal parent of the child. In some cases, it may be advisable for the spouse or registered domestic partner to adopt the child to be assured of being recognized as a legal parent. For instance, a same-sex spouse or registered domestic partner will be considered to be a legal parent in Washington and some other states, but not in all states. By adopting the child the same sex spouse or registered domestic partner establishes a legal relationship with the child that is much less likely to be challenged in other states.  

If an adoption is advisable, the cooperation of the gamete donor may be necessary. An assisted reproduction agreement can provide that the gamete donor agrees to cooperate with an adoption if the intended parents feel that it is something they want to do in order to protect both of their relationships with the child. A Washington adoption attorney can assist you with this legal process.


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Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen | Washington Assisted Reproduction Attorney

If you are seeking to have children through use of assisted reproduction technology, it's important to fully understand and and deal with any and all legal issues. Washington assisted reproduction lawyer Joyce Schwensen helps potential parents with their legal needs surrounding surrogacy, gamete donation and other assisted reproduction technologies. Call (206) 367-1065 today to set up a consultation.

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