Modern medical science has been a blessing to childless couples — those who don’t want to adopt now have a multitude of options that can help them have a child of their own.

However, if regular fertility treatments have failed you or carrying a child is simply not possible for you, you may be considering the use of a surrogate mother.

In Arizona, that can be a complicated process that’s legally murky because contracts for both traditional surrogacy (where the biological mother conceives a child using her own egg and the intended father’s sperm) and gestational surrogacy (where the woman who provides the host womb is impregnated with an embryo and is not biologically related to the child) are not legally enforceable.

That doesn’t necessarily stop the agreements from being made, but many attorneys will only craft a surrogacy contract with full disclosures written in place. It also means that any couple in Arizona who decides to take the chance on a surrogate does stand a certain risk. If the surrogate elects to keep the child, she has legal standing as the birth mother — regardless of her biological relationship. If she’s married, her husband has automatic presumptive fatherhood (although that can be rebutted in court if he desires).

Many couples in Arizona seek pre-birth orders that will allow one or both of the intended parents to be listed on the birth certificate when the child is born. In some cases, the court may refuse to grant an order allowing either intended parent to be listed on the birth certificate until after the child is born. In many cases, depending on the legal marital status of the intended parents and whether or not the intended parents are a heterosexual couple or a same-sex couple, the second parent may have to seek second-parent adoption in order to establish a legal relationship with the child.

Because the laws regarding surrogacy and gestational carriers are so complex, it’s wisest to seek legal counsel from a family law attorney before you begin. For information on how our firm may be able to help you, please visit our page.