Since 2005, married couples desiring to have children through a gestational carrier have been able to rely on the laws of Utah to eliminate much of the uncertainty and risk that may otherwise be involved in the surrogacy process. The Utah Uniform Parentage Act (Utah Code § 78B-15-801, et seq.), allows Utah courts to validate gestational agreements and issue pre-birth and post-birth orders that confirm parentage and direct the Office of Vital Records to issue a birth certificate naming the intended parents as parents of the child or children. Utah State Senator Lyle Hillyard sponsored the bill in the 2005 that became the law in Utah.
In the 2018 session of the Utah Senate, Senator Lyle Hillyard introduced S.B. 126, which would repeal the provisions of the Utah Uniform Parentage Act dealing with gestational agreements. The Utah State Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing on S.B. 126 on February 7, 2018. At the hearing, Sen. Hillyard explained before the Committee that he sought to repeal the law because circumstances with courts, marriage, and surrogacy had changed since 2005.
Many others, including members of The Cannon Law Group, made public comments before the Committee concerning their experiences with surrogacy and the process of validating gestational agreements through Utah courts. The comments were overwhelmingly in favor of the law and against repealing the law. At the end of the hearing, the Committee voted to table the bill, signaling the Committee’s opposition to it.
The basic components of validating a gestational agreement in Utah are as follows:
- Either the mother or intended parents must be residents of Utah for at least 90 days
- Medical evidence shows that the intended mother is unable to bear a child without unreasonable risk;
- The intended parents must meet standards of fitness through an adoptive home study;
- All parties must participate in counseling to discuss options and consequences;
- The prospective gestational mother must have had at least one pregnancy and delivery;
- Health care expenses must be provided for; and
- All parties must be 21 years of age or older.
Cannon Law Group has assisted many gestational carriers and intended parents through the process of negotiating a gestational agreement, filing a petition to validate the agreement, and obtaining the necessary orders from the court to protect the interests of all parties and to ensure the parentage of the intended parents.