Many couples, for a variety of reasons, are unable to have children through sexual intercourse. In addition, single parents sometimes want to have children. People in either situation may want to have a biological or genetic connection to the child which cannot be achieved through traditional adoption. These prospective parents have children by using alternative means of reproduction, usually called Assisted Reproductive Techniques (“ARTs”). ARTs refer to the creation of a pregnancy without sexual intercourse. There are two primary methods of having a child born through ART–in vitro fertilization (IVF) and artificial insemination. If a prospective parent (woman or man) who seeks to have a child through IVF or artificial insemination cannot bear the child, then he or she and their spouse or partner will enter into a surrogacy arrangement or agreement with a woman “surrogate mother” who agrees to bear the child. By definition, the surrogate mother bears the child as the result of IVF or artificial insemination.
Family laws dealing with custody and support of children have been built around the traditional notion of a married couple having children through sexual intercourse or adoption. In Missouri, laws dealing with the adoption of children, custody of children, and support of children are primarily confined to the traditional dissolution of marriage, paternity, and adoption statutes-these laws are not very helpful in determining who are the legal parents of the child. These laws can also be inadequate to deal with the custody and support of these children if the parents break up.
It is critical for people who want to have children through assisted reproductive techniques to create the appropriate legal relationship with the child in the beginning. Parents who go through the legal process and are both declared parents of the child, or both adopt the child, will have the greatest protection of the law if they break up or end their relationship. If parents of children born through ARTS have not done that, and then they break up their relationship, it is particularly critical to find an attorney that understands the special issues, both legal and extra-legal, which are essential in solving the legal problems relating to their child.
The attorneys at Paule, Camazine and Blumenthal will help prospective parents and parents of children who were conceived through ARTs sort through these issues in a manner that best serves them and the interests of their children.