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Family & Divorce Law

Surrogate keeps baby, parents file for child custody

By Tolison & Williams / March 10, 2016

Many Colorado couples have considered using a surrogate to expand their family. While this path can lead many to great joy, it is also fraught with the risk of heartbreak. One family has been fighting an unusual child custody battle for many years after their chosen surrogate decided to keep the baby.

The couple, who were nearing 50 at the time, wanted to add a child to their family. They looked for a surrogate, and they thought that they had found the perfect match in a 22-year-old woman who was married and eager to help a family bring a child into the world. After meeting with the surrogate candidate and her husband, the parties decided to move forward, and a contract was signed.

The woman became pregnant through a procedure that used her own egg and sperm from the other woman's husband. Once she became pregnant, she began acting in an odd manner and seemed to want to distance herself from the couple. The couple consulted with an attorney, and they were advised to hold up their end of the surrogate agreement in case the matter ended up in court.

The couple paid the surrogate a fee of $15,000 and also paid for her medical bills and pregnancy-related expenses. When the child was born, however, the surrogate took the baby home, not even bothering to call the parents. Because the woman is the biological mother of the child, the couple was at a distinct legal disadvantage to seek full child custody rights.

The child is now seven years old and lives with her mother. The couple has visitation rights and can see the child, whom they call their daughter, for two weekends each month. They have continued to fight to gain full custody but have been unsuccessful. Because the husband is the child's biological father, he is expected to pay child support to the woman who agreed to act as the couple's surrogate.

This unusual child custody case serves as an example of the complexities that can arise when a family uses a non-traditional means of expanding their family. Readers in Colorado and across the nation should pay attention to the facts in this case. Those who are considering working with a surrogate should discuss the matter with a family law attorney prior to moving forward with the process.

Source: People, "Heartbroken Parents Left Paying Child Support After Surrogate Keeps Their Baby Girl: 'I Spend Every Day Thinking of Her,' Says Mom", Caitlin Keating, March 7, 2016

Tags: Child Custody

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