LGBTQ+ Family Building - New York
If you’re one of the countless LGBTQ+ couples or individuals out there seeking to start or grow your family, the whole process can seem incredibly long and overwhelming. Sometimes you have one too many uteruses (uteri??) but are missing something else. Sometimes you have all the sperm you could need, but no egg or oven. We know it takes work! And money. And a village of professionals from cryobanks to social workers to mental health professionals to agency staff to physicians. Many people think: Why do I need to add a lawyer to the team? After all, most different-sex couples don’t. Well, yes, we certainly recognize the frustration and hesitation. And yet, the fact remains that when it comes to LGBTQ+ family formation, making families and most importantly, securing families, takes that extra effort—legally. That’s where the Law Office of Jennifer P. Maas, PLLC comes in.
For our lesbian and other clients in need, we guide you through the legal process as well as make referrals as may be needed to physicians, cryobanks, directed donor programs, mental health professionals and attorneys to represent your known donors. We’ve done this before and know that in most cases, you haven’t. We understand that and take the time to guide our clients through the process in accordance with FDA guidelines, best practices and of course, the law, to make sure your intentions are clear and you and most importantly, your children, are best protected.
Our law firm will take great care to ensure that your Sperm Donation Agreement complies with New York Law when you are working with a known donor, so that when the time comes, there will be little question that the sperm donor is legally classified as a donor and not a parent. In "phase 2" of the legal process, after a pregnancy is achieved (or "phase 1" of the legal process for those using anonymous/open ID donations through a cryobank) we work with our clients to obtain needed documentation and prepare and file a petition in court, so that both parents can obtain a court-ordered Judgment of Parentage declaring each to be equal legal parents under the law, and declaring that your child’s sperm donor is not a legal parent. This is so crucial for families using donor gametes (egg and sperm) or reciprocal IVF to have their children, but far too often overlooked. Our representation includes single intended parents, unmarried partners and married couples, alike, as well as providing representation for donors (though not in the same case where we represent a recipient/intended parent). (For more info on why securing legal parentage beyond just a birth certificate is so important, visit our blog!)
For gay men and others seeking to start or expand their families the process may be somewhat different, but the need for legal representation remains. We can make needed referrals for our clients and provide legal representation in Egg Donation Agreements or Embryo Donation Agreements between you and a donor or donors. We can draft Surrogacy Agreements for our clients, and we may be able to help you to obtain a court-ordered Judgment of Parentage declaring both parents in a two-parent relationship to be equal legal parents under the law, or declare a single parent the only legal parent while the surrogate and donors are freed from parental rights and responsibilities, as the parties intend.
When LGBTQ+ families have international ties or dual citizenship, we can also work with you to seek an Order of Adoption as a Second-Parent or a Step-Parent, if a Judgment of Parentage is not right for you. We can refer our clients to the needed team members to accomplish that goal and work to secure legal parentage for those who do not give birth to their children.
And for those who have already started (or finished) creating their families but have been relying on the fact that they are married couples or that they are on their child's birth certificate to protect them and didn't realize that their families aren't truly protected without a court order (yes, even in this day and age where we have marriage equality) we're here for you too! In many cases we can file petitions in court so that you can get a Judgment of Parentage or Order of Adoption which will ensure your child has a legal right to inherit from a parent who didn't give birth to them, has a legal right to certain government benefits only afforded to the legal child of a person (a birth certificate doesn't do that!!) and gives you the right to request custody of or visitation with your child in the event of the death of a gestational partner or change in relationship status. (Check out our blog to explain more, or set up a consultation to find out how we can help!)
Contact the Law Office of Jennifer P. Maas, PLLC to arrange a free phone or virtual consultation to discuss your specific family building plans or how to secure your legal parentage to children you already have here in New York!