‘Surrogate mother’ contracts are okay, one court says

A “surrogate mother” who agreed in writing to carry a child to term for a couple can’t change her mind later and keep custody of the baby, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently decided.

Monica Schissel was a childhood friend of a woman who couldn’t have children of her own due to battles with cancer.

She volunteered to act as a surrogate mother, carrying a baby to be fertilized in-vitro with her own eggs and the husband’s sperm. Monica and the couple signed a contract under which the couple would become the full legal parents of the child with exclusive custody. Monica also agreed to cooperate in a court’s termination of her parental rights and in her friend’s adoption of the child.

While Monica was pregnant, however, she decided she wanted to keep the baby.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court sided with the couple. It said allowing surrogacy contracts like this one would promote family stability and avoid protracted custody lawsuits that could stretch on for the first few years of a child’s life.

However, the decision applies only in Wisconsin. Other states have different rules, and we’d be happy to advise you if you’re concerned about this issue.