Surrogacy involves implanting an embryo into the uterus of a third person who will carry the pregnancy to term. The egg or sperm used to create the embryo generally come from the couple who wish to parent the baby. They are known as the arranged parents. The woman who carries the baby for the arranged parents is known as the surrogate.
Surrogacy law in Western Australia is governed by the Surrogacy Act (2008). All applications for surrogacy must meet certain criteria set out in the Act. This includes all parties having received independent legal advice, independent counselling, a psychological assessment by a clinical psychologist and a medical assessment by a medical practitioner, followed by a three month cooling off period. Furthermore prior to the three month cooling off period the parties must have entered into a written surrogacy arrangement, prepared by a lawyer, documenting the rights and responsibilities of all the parties involved. Each case is then presented to the Reproductive Technology Council (RTC) for approval. If approval is granted, surrogacy will be permitted. Once the child is born, the arranged parents can make an application to the Family Court for a Parenting Order so that they can be legally recognised as the child's parents.
Commercial surrogacy arrangements (where the surrogate mother is paid a fee to carry the baby to term) are not permitted in Western Australia. The surrogate mother can however be reimbursed for certain expenses. These include medical expenses, counselling costs, insurances and legal costs.
Even in the best circumstances, surrogacy can be a complex arrangement and gives rise to sensitive issues. For this reason, it is generally preferable that there be a history of a relationship between the parties before entering into the arrangement.
Before proceeding with a surrogacy arrangement it is important you know your rights and that you have a clear understanding of your obligations throughout the process.
At Paterson and Dowding we can help you with your decision and can prepare the agreement and other necessary documentation from beginning to end.