Budgeting for Surrogacy

How much does it cost to go through surrogacy?

The cost of the surrogacy process varies greatly depending on the kind of procedures that you’ll be going through – so budgeting for the whole process can be difficult if you’re not sure what’s ahead of you.

For example, if you’re going through some form of artificial reproductive technology process like in vitro fertilisation there’ll probably be substantial medical costs even if some are subsidised by health insurance. After conception, there’ll also be a range of other costs normally associated with the pregnancy and the birth (ie, health insurance, ultrasounds, medical checkups and tests, consultations with the obstetricians, medical consultations with the obstetricians, pre and post-natal classes, if you so choose).

The costs that are unique to the surrogacy process, but generally apply to all surrogacy arrangements, are the costs associated with various consultants, such as psychologists and lawyers, with respect to entering into the surrogacy arrangement and subsequently applying for the parentage order. While these costs can vary, I expect they should not vary too greatly as they must all satisfy the same requirements at law.

Surrogacy Arrangement

Section 34 of the Surrogacy Act provides that the surrogacy arrangement must be in writing. So who’s going to write this for you? The majority of our clients ask us to prepare the surrogacy arrangement for them. I’d personally recommend this, unless you’ve gone through the surrogacy process before and have a template for a surrogacy arrangement previously accepted by the Supreme Court. If not, then for peace of mind, ask us (or your own lawyer) to prepare the surrogacy arrangement for you. Costs associated with preparing the surrogacy arrangement can vary depending on the complexity of the nature of your relationship with the surrogate mother or parents, and what you want to include in the arrangement. In most cases, we’re able to offer a fixed fee quote to prepare the surrogacy arrangement once we’ve established and agreed on its scope.

Counselling Required

Section 35 of the Surrogacy Act provides that the intended parents and surrogate mother or parents must have received counselling from a qualified counsellor (ie, we generally refer to psychologists) before entering into the surrogacy arrangement. The surrogate mother or parents must also receive counselling before consenting to the parentage order. Obviously, there’s a cost associated with all of the counselling which again can very depending on whether the parties being counselled respond appropriately to the counselling. If they don’t, then I expect that it could justify further counselling until such time as the counsellor is able to certify that the parties have satisfied this requirement. Costs range for fixed fee arrangements to hourly rates depending on the complexity of the situation being addressed or the consultations involved.

Legal Advice Required

Section 36 of the Surrogacy Act provides that the intended parents and surrogate mother or parents much have obtained legal advice about the surrogacy arrangement before entering into it. Further, the legal advice to the intended parents and to the surrogate mother or parents must be independent form one another. In these situations, we offer a fixed price consultation for reviewing and providing advice on the surrogacy arrangement to either intended parents or surrogate mothers or parents.

Applying for the Parentage Order

By the time you’re ready to consider this part of the whole process you’ve probably gone through months worth of treatments to conceive, months of waiting during the pregnancy culminating in the excitement of the birth. You’re nearly there. The legal conclusion of this whole process is to have your child legally recognised as your own. Leaving aside the changes to the law introduced by the Surrogacy Act, the existing presumption is that mother of a child is the woman who gives birth to the child. But surrogacy has changed all that, not just medically, socially but also legally. The law now recognises that a surrogate mother can give birth to your child, but that child will be your child and not the surrogate mother’s child – and that happens by effect of a parentage order.

Having satisfied all the requirements of the Surrogacy Act, the last step is to apply to the Supreme Court for a parentage order which formally and legally recognises the child born through surrogacy to be the child of the intended parents. Aside for the the costs associated with satisfying the requirements (such as preparing the surrogacy arrangement, and obtaining counselling and legal advice), actually applying for the parentage order incurs the costs in relation to preparing the application, compiling the supporting documentation, the filing fee with the Supreme Court, as well as appearing in court in support of the application. While we generally offer an hourly rate with respect to this work, we’re able to provide fixed fee estimates for different aspects or stages of the work throughout the process.

Budgeting for legal costs

Without being able to foretell the future, I try to explain to our clients what they should expect, especially with respect to budgeting for legal costs in the surrogacy process. It’s not an exact science and more often than not, we need to revisit every step each step of the way. If it’s any consolation or reassurance, I advise clients that the legal costs associated with surrogacy will probably be one of the smallest cost components of the whole process – especially compared to the medical expenses that they may incur or probably have incurred before consulting my office. But like those medical expenses, the cost of legal services (or counselling services for that matter) are unavoidable – despite some feedback to the contrary – if you intend to properly follow the process to achieve your goal of being legally recognised as the parents of your child born through surrogacy.

What next?

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My Personal Invitation

Choosing to have a child through surrogacy or agreeing to be a surrogate mother is an important life choice that shouldn't be taken lightly. As the father of two boys, I personally know the joys (and challenges) of being a parent. I also understand why you're going through what you're going through to become a parent yourself. That's the human condition.

By the time you're reading this article, you've probably spent a small fortune on medical expenses and taken a ride on an emotional roller coaster which I'm sure has had a physical and psychological toll on you and your family. But if you're here, then you've come to the right place and you're heading in the right direction.

My team of lawyers and I have been helping intended parents and surrogate mothers (and their partners) understand their rights and obligations arising from surrogacy, as well as the legal process necessary to ensure a successful outcome, even before the Surrogacy Act was introduced. During this time, we've noticed that there's a general lack of reliable information regarding surrogacy in the public space (including the internet) and that's why we're proud to have developed this website. We developed this website to help you in your research, to understand your legal rights and obligations, and to guide you each step of the way in terms of the legal and social issues that you'll face.

Allow us to have privilege of advising you and representing you throughout the surrogacy process and share the joy of your new family.

Ern Phang

Ern Phang

This website is maintained by Phang Legal, a boutique legal practice in Parramatta that provides legal advice and representation in surrogacy and family law related matters for intended parents and surrogate/birth parents across New South Wales.

Ern Phang is the solicitor director of Phang Legal. Ern regularly writes about his experiences in helping clients with understanding their legal rights and obligations in surrogacy matters.

All information contained in this article is for general purposes only and correct as at the time of publication. You should only rely on information and advice that is specific to your situation and current at the time you wish to rely on it.