What you need to know about the legal process in Florida
Attorney Robert Terenzio (www.robertterenzio.com) answers common questions about the legal process of a surrogacy journey in the state of Florida.
INTERNATIONAL LESBIAN IPs
INTERNATIONAL GAY IPs
About Robert Terenzio
Robert Terenzio owns a law firm that exclusively practices in assisted reproductive technology law. Over the many years Robert has been in this field, he noticed that the best support he could provide his clients was to provide them a stable legal framework within which to pursue parentage, plentiful and transparent information on the ART processes and unwavering support and counsel throughout their journey.
Robert is a member of the Florida and Connecticut Bar Associations. He belongs to the Family Law Section of both states and the Health Law Section of the Florida Bar. Robert is a member of the American Bar Association, Assisted Reproduction Committee for which he advises on continuing legal education programs. Robert is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology and the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics. Robert is a long time supporter and member of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.
Having a background in malpractice and risk management, Robert is a long-time advocate of national standards for non-licensed professionals in the ART arena. Robert has answered the challenge of the lack of transparency in ART by speaking to physicians, nurses, allied medical personnel, attorneys and the infertile public, in both formal settings and informal meetings, within the United States, and in Europe and South America.
Overview of attorney responsibilities in the state of Florida
The Florida surrogacy statute was put in place in 1995 and has never been attacked legally. The statute states that a surrogate is only a surrogate and never a parent. While complying with this statute, Robert’s office will:
- Draft a Gestational Surrogacy Agreement (GSA) between the Intended Parent(s) and the Surrogate.
- Report to court and present the judge with a copy of the Gestational Surrogacy Agreement.
- File an affidavit from the Surrogate’s doctor confirming where the genetic material of the child to be born has originated.
- Obtain the Pre-Birth Order (PBO) from the court which ensures that the delivery hospital will recognize the IPs as the child’s parents.
- Inform the delivery hospital that there will be a surrogacy birth at their facility.
- Confirm with the hospital that, at the time of delivery, the Intended Parents can have a room of their own with their baby while they wait for hospital discharge.
- File a Post-Birth Order at the time of the baby’s birth in order for a birth certificate to be issued listing the IPs as the child’s legal parents.*
*Florida Vital Records will issue a birth certificate within 4-6 business days of birth listing the IPs as the legal parents of the surrogate child.
Unmarried Intended Parents
In cases where the Intended Parents are not legally married, a Florida judge will likely require a home visit to be completed. Robert’s office works with a number of social workers to conduct these home visits in accordance with the court’s guidelines.
In Florida, home studies are at the discretion of the court. In the event that the Intended Parents are not married, a home study is almost always required. The home visit will involve a visit to the Intended Parents’ home and a series of questions which will comprise the report which is returned to the court. The home study generally consists of the following questions:
- How long has the couple been together?
- Tell us about your work, social, and family lives.
- Do you each feel comfortable that the other has a present ability to provide for the health, education, and wellbeing of a child?
- Do you each feel comfortable that that ability will extend into the future?
Length of the Parentage Process in Florida
There is typically a minimum of 21 days for the legal office in Florida to process the parentage request. Robert’s office will work with the Florida courts to minimize the processing times as much as possible by coordinating their court appearances and document filing so that the process proceeds as efficiently as possible.
Most of Robert Terenzio’s clientele is international. Approximately 70% of his clients are from another country. Of that, approximately 80% are either single or part of an LGBTQ couple.
Robert’s office itemizes the legal fees for establishing parentage as follows:
When representing Intended Parents:
- Drafting Surrogacy Contract (when representing: $3,500
- Pre/Post Birth Orders; hospital coordination; birth certificate: $3,000
- Miscellaneous court/shipping fees: Approximately $400
When representing Surrogate:
- Reviewing Surrogacy Contract: $1,500
International Lesbian IPs
What is the legal process for international lesbian couples to establishing parentage in Florida?
If one member of the lesbian couple is carrying the child, Robert’s office will prosecute an adoption through the Florida courts to establish parentage for both parents. The birth mother will advise the court about her pregnancy and the circumstances therein. She will also confirm her marriage to her wife with the Florida court. The judge will make a determination if a home visit is required (see above). If everything is satisfactory, the court will generate an adoption order conferring equal parentage on both of the women where they will share parentage and custody equally.
Placing only one parent on the birth certificate
In some cases, international Intended Parents may be returning to a home country that will not recognize two same-sex parents on the birth certificate. In these cases, Robert’s office can issue either an addendum to the Gestational Surrogacy Agreement (GSA) or a revision to the language in the GSA itself to ensure that one parent will be the sole parent responsible for the child.
Will a parentage order in Florida be honored in other states?
Yes. Adoptions have to be accepted by sister states.
International Gay IPs
What is the legal process for international gay IPs establishing parentage in the state of Florida?
Generally speaking, if one member of the gay married couple is a genetic contributor to the child they both can go onto the birth certificate together in Florida.
In the case where the home country does not recognize a same-sex couple on the birth certificate, Robert’s office will prosecute the surrogacy as a single-parent surrogacy and present it to the court as such. His office will then obtain a parental order for the genetic father and turn that into a birth certificate with the genetic father’s name listed. Then Robert’s office will initiate a second parent adoption process so that the other member of the gay married couple also gets custody.
To learn more about the parentage process in the state of Florida, please contact Robert Terenzio and his team via their website https://robertterenzio.com/