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Fathers’ Rights in Assisted Reproduction Arrangements

What Is an Assisted Reproduction Arrangement?

An assisted reproduction arrangement involves an agreement between individuals for using assisted reproduction technology (ART) to allow someone to have a child born from their genetic material. ART refers to methods of artificial reproduction using processes where human reproductive cells are combined in a laboratory. The most recognized ART methods are in vitro fertilization (IVF), traditional surrogacy, and gestational surrogacy.

ART allows individuals to have a child using their own genetic material by circumventing the natural biological process of human reproduction.

In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process that combines a man’s sperm cells and a woman’s egg cells in a laboratory and reintroduces the fertilized egg into a woman’s uterus. IVF allows couples to have children if one or both of them have a medical issue that prevents them from having children through sexual intercourse.

Traditional Surrogacy

Traditional surrogacy is a process where donated sperm cells are combined with a woman’s egg cells using IVF or another form of artificial insemination and reintroduced to the mother’s womb. The surrogate then carries the baby to term and delivered. Although it is rare, a traditional surrogacy arrangement can involve the relinquishment of the surrogate mother’s parental rights so that the sperm donor and his spouse can assume a child-parent relationship with the child. Donors of genetic material and third-parties who assume such rights are called “intended parents.”

Currently it is illegal to enter into a surrogacy contract in Michigan. Anyone who enters into or “assists in the formation of” a surrogate parentage contract for compensation can face criminal charges for commiting a misdemeanor punishable by up to $10,000 and up to one year in jail.

Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy refers to a procedure that introduces the combined genetic material of two persons into the uterus of a surrogate who is genetically unrelated to the child she will carry through pregnancy and subsequently deliver at birth. Thus, the surrogate mother’s relationship to the child is necessarily limited to gestational purposes.

Laws Determining a Father’s Rights in ART

Although ART arrangements typically involve a written private agreement between the intended parents of a child born from ART and either reproductive donors or surrogate mothers, it is ultimately state parentage law that determines the extent of a father’s rights in ART situations. A father’s parental rights derive from paternity determinations.

In Michigan, issues regarding paternity are governed by several different laws, including:

  • Section 522.29 of Michigan’s Compiled Laws, which establishes a legal presumption of paternity for fathers married to the child’s mother
  • The Acknowledgement of Parentage Act, allowing prospective fathers to establish paternity by both parents acknowledging a parental relationship with a child
  • The Genetic Parentage Act, which allows prospective prospective fathers to establish paternity through genetic testing
  • The Summary Support and Paternity Act, which allows a state child support enforcement agency—known as a Title IV-D agency—to initiate a paternity determination proceeding.

Fathers of children born using ART can establish paternity if they were married to the child’s mother when they were born. For example, if a husband and wife utilizes IVF to combine their genetic material, the law presumes that the husband is the child’s legal father. Fathers can also establish paternity through positive genetic test results connecting them to their child.

Determining paternity in surrogacy arrangements can be more complicated. The best way of establishing paternity in surrogacy cases is under the genetic parentage act. Additionally, an intended father can establish paternity under the Acknowledgment of Parentage Act by signing a parentage form with the surrogate mother where they both acknowledge paternity.

Start by Calling the American Divorce Association for Men

If you are a father who needs legal advice regarding issues of divorce and parental rights, it is in your best interests to consult an attorney from the American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM). Our team of dedicated lawyers at ADAM have the knowledge and experience with Michigan family law to preserve your legal rights and support your rights as a father.

Call ADAM at (248) 327-0050 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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