Stephanie Brinkley Speaks with Ryan Bauerle of the ABA Podcast

Stephanie Brinkley

Stephanie Brinkley sat down with Ryan Bauerle for The ABA Family Law Podcast Series to discuss “Issues Attorneys Face in ART Practice.” Stephanie became an attorney specializing in Assisted Reproduction Technology and Adoption as she learned about the broadening law surrounding ART.

In this episode, Stephanie discusses finding a surrogate and the need for quality surrogacy candidates. With rigorous standards that protect both the parents and the surrogate, it can be difficult to find willing participants and the right ones who can fulfill the requirements, including physical and mental health considerations.

Stephanie often blends her ART law knowledge with other family law experience when concerns like frozen embryos work their way into divorce proceedings. She explains the tests that are applied in these situations and the agreements that couples can use to make sure they are protected in undesirable situations like the death of one party or a divorce. SofÍa Vergara’s recent case regarding which spouse gets frozen embryos in a divorce put a spotlight on these issues.

But, what happens to unmarried couples in situations like these? Stephanie says it varies by state, but she first and foremost encourages couples to get an agreement drawn up before they create and freeze the embryos to ensure they both agree on how these situations would be handled in a divorce.

Divorce lawyers have a large amount of considerations to make with new reproduction technology and reproductive laws that are still finding their way around the technology. Divorces are stressful enough without wondering how law works surrounding what may be a couple’s last chance at having a biological child.

The podcast also broaches the topic of same sex couples working on family building and the specific challenges they can face depending on which form of assisted reproduction they choose. Stephanie makes it clear that just because your name is on a birth certificate does not mean you are protected as a parent. This is why you need a co-maternity or co-parenting agreement drawn up between you and your attorney before conception to ensure both parties are protected in the case of a divorce or custody battle later. With clear evidence of joint intent to bring a baby into the family, the courts may uphold equal parental rights in a divorce, and this concept of intent-based parenting is applied to same-sex couples. The preconception agreements show that marital funds are being used, appointments are being attended together, and both parents are intending to parent the child.

Then, after the birth of the baby, adoption paperwork may need to be filed by the parent that did not provide genetic material, or it may be necessary to affirm parentage even with genetic material being used.

Add in the complications of traveling internationally, and parents may need an order of adoption to avoid having parental rights challenged in another country. Once you cross the border and enter another country, an order affirming parentage will not be acknowledged outside of the United States.

The options and legal issues surrounding the ever-changing ART programs in the United States can be complex, which is why Stephanie answered these questions and more in this podcast and why she helps people every day to enforce their rights and fight for their families.

Categories: Speaking