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California Surrogacy Law Overview

The Center for Surrogate Parenting walks you through California surrogacy law

Surrogacy is a beautiful family-building method. However, it can be complex, especially when it comes to the laws surrounding it. Thankfully, our experienced surrogacy agency is well-versed in the surrogacy laws of each state, including California surrogacy law. In fact, the Center for Surrogate Parenting (CSP) has completed about 800 finalizations of parental rights in this state.

As the oldest surrogacy agency in the world, we have helped U.S. and international parents to welcome healthy babies with help from U.S. surrogates. We are proud to say that we have never experienced issues with intended parents being able to bring their babies home.

To help you learn more about California surrogacy law and how to create a surrogacy contract, we’ve included some basic information below. You can also contact us for more information.

    • Is a surrogacy contract valid and enforceable?

      Yes, California is a very surrogacy-friendly state. With more statutory law and case law on surrogacy than almost any other state, California is one of the easiest places to expand your family through surrogacy.

    • Does the state have surrogacy laws and/or case law?

      Yes, California has statutory law that defines surrogacy terms, explains how to handle funds, outlines the components of a valid surrogacy agreement, and clarifies the parentage of children born from donor eggs and sperm. California court cases have also upheld the validity of surrogacy contracts.

    • Are the courts typically favorable or unfavorable towards surrogacy arrangements?

      Having the most liberal laws on surrogacy in the nation, California courts are highly favorable towards surrogacy arrangements.

    • Is commercial surrogacy legal?

      Yes, commercial surrogacy is legal in California and the intended parents are permitted to compensate the surrogate for her time and expenses.

    • Is traditional surrogacy permitted?

      Yes, because there are no California statutes that directly address traditional surrogacy. However, the lack of direct statutory law makes it more of a risk for intended parents.

    • Is gestational surrogacy allowed?

      Yes, gestational surrogacy is a common and well-regulated way to build your family in California.

    • What are the requirements for an enforceable surrogacy contract?

      All gestational carrier agreements executed in accordance with ALL these provisions are presumptively VALID. (1) the intended parents and the gestational carrier (and her spouse, if applicable) are represented by independent legal counsel prior to contracting. (2) All agreements must be notarized and executed before commencing an embryo transfer procedure (including the administration of injectable medications in preparation for an embryo transfer). (3) The surrogacy agreement MUST contain the date of execution, the source of the eggs, sperm and/or embryos, the identity of the intended parents and how the intended parents will handle payment.

    • Can both intended parents be declared the legal parents?

      Yes, both intended parents can be declared the legal parents in a pre-birth order, regardless of their marital status, sexual orientation, whether they are using donor sperm or eggs, or whether they are related to the child.

    • Are pre-birth and post-birth orders permitted?

      Yes, the intended parents may petition for a parentage order in California prior to the child’s birth. However, the pre-birth order only becomes effective and enforceable after the birth. There must be a valid agreement between the intended parents and the gestational carrier that expresses the parties’ intent to have a baby using surrogacy. The intended parent’s rights will be recognized, regardless of sexual orientation, marital status or the use of donor gametes.

    • Will the state honor a pre-birth order issued by another state?


    • What do intended parents need to know about getting the baby’s birth certificate?

      The timeframe for birth certificate delivery after the birth is 5-10 days. The expedited timeframe is about 3 days, but this varies by county. Parents may choose their designation as “father,” “mother,” or “parent.”

      International same-sex male couples can obtain an initial birth certificate that names the biological father and gestational carrier. They can subsequently obtain a birth certificate that names the biological father or both fathers only, with no mention of the carrier.

    • Are post-birth adoptions permitted?

      Yes, if they have three essential elements. (1) A voluntary and informed parental consent to the adoption. (2) A suitable adoptive parent at least 10 years older than the child. (3) A judicial determination that “the interests of the child will be promoted by the adoption.”

    • Are second-parent adoptions permitted?

      Yes. Second parent adoptions are available to same-sex and/or unmarried couples (or even non-couples, such as family members) to secure their parental rights over a child who is conceived via a gestational carrier arrangement. However, although this option is available, it is strongly recommended to use only as a last resort because it can be a costly and lengthy process with many requirements. Using this method often means it will take several months to get the child’s birth certificate.

    • Are stepparent adoptions permitted?

      Yes. Additionally, because stepparent adoptions do not require a home study, written investigation or hearing, they are typically cheaper, easier and faster to complete than second parent adoptions. For this reason, stepparent adoptions are preferable for married couples or couples in domestic partnerships.

VorzimerMasserman Disclaimer: This is a summary for informational use only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. Please note that the state laws regarding surrogacy frequently change and vary from county to county. The attorneys of VorzimerMasserman are only licensed in California. VorzimerMasserman shall not be responsible for any liability associated with this list.