Legal Parentage in Surrogacy: Where Should I File?

January 22, 2016

Gavel and Earth2.jpgOnce the gestational surrogacy agreement is executed, the legal work is not always complete. Depending on the state, Intended Parents may need to establish their legal parentage in the courts. Intended Parents pursuing this route file pleadings with the court and then obtain a court order declaring their parentage (assuming the court grants their petition). The terms "pre-birth order" or "post-birth order" may come to mind here, and Intended Parents should consult with an attorney to determine what the state's laws permit as well as what type of court order they should seek. This begs the question of where the Intended Parents should file for parentage.

Intended Parents should file for parentage in the state where the child is born. They must complete all of their court pleadings and any other necessary legal documents in accordance with the laws of that state. This is especially important to note for Intended Parents who live in a different state than the Gestational Surrogate. It's imperative that Intended Parents consult with an experienced reproductive law attorney who is familiar with that state's surrogacy laws to assist them with filing for parentage. Remember that surrogacy laws vary among the states, and each state may have different procedures to establish legal parentage.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients in all areas of family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

photo credit: Justice Gavel via photopin (license)

Why Estate Planning is Essential for Surrogacy

January 15, 2016

baby hand.jpgWhile a family building journey brings much excitement, it's also important to address the difficult but necessary subject of estate planning. Estate planning documents can prevent the additional stress and disorientation should tragedy afflict the intended parents or the gestational surrogate.

It is highly recommended that the intended parents establish or amend their existing estate planning documents to reflect the child that the gestational surrogate is gestating. This should involve designating a guardian for the child, unequivocally stating the child's legal parentage, and establishing financial support for the child in the event of the intended parents' death. Additionally, if the intended parens have stored cryopreserved embryos or other genetic material, their disposition should be addressed in the estate planning documents (absent a separate disposition agreement).

The gestational surrogate should also establish or amend her existing estate planning documents to reflect the child. This typically involves stating that the child is not biologically related to her and does not inherit from her, and designating the intended parents as guardians of the child in the event of her death. It's also important for the gestational surrogate to execute a document (such as a power of attorney) expressing her desires regarding life support and selecting a designee to carry out her wishes should she become incapacitated during the pregnancy.

Note that surrogacy agreements generally do not carry sufficient legal authority for estate planning purposes. Therefore, intended parent(s) and gestational surrogates should consult with an experienced attorney to draft (or amend) estate planning documents for their assisted reproductive technology needs.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas of family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

photo credit: Khloe via photopin (license)

Attorney Michele Jackson and Congresswoman Susan Brooks at NCFA Advocacy Day

November 27, 2015

MJ NCFA Advocacy Day.jpgAs National Adoption Month wraps up, we wanted to share a photo of attorney Michele Jackson and Congresswoman Susan Brooks taken this summer at the National Council for Adoption's Advocacy Day. Ms. Jackson spent the day on Capitol Hill meeting with several members of Congress to promote adoption and advocate for the adoption community.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an adoption attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Open vs. Closed Adoptions

November 20, 2015

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In honor of National Adoption Month, our November blog posts are focused on adoption. Today's blog explores open vs. closed adoptions. These terms are often thrown around in discussions surrounding adoption. Simply put, they refer to the agreed-upon relationship between the adoptive parents and the birth mother before and after the placement. However, the meanings of these terms are not as definitive as they may seem.

Open adoptions encompass a broad variety of relationships. While many people understand them as continuing a relationship between the child and the birth mother after the child has been adopted (through visits and communication, for example), this is only one example of open adoptions. The common thread in all open adoptions is that some kind of in-person contact exists between the adoptive family and the birth mother, and the parties share identifying information. However, the degree of openness between the parties is different in every adoption. Some families may elect to have regular visits with the birth mother, while others may choose to arrange phone calls during the holidays.

Closed adoptions involve limited contact. Identifying information is not shared between the parties, nor do relationships exist between the parties before and after the placement. Typically, the only information shared in closed adoptions includes medical records. However, in this age of electronic communication and social media, it may be nearly impossible to conceal the other party's identifying information.

While the open vs. closed adoption classifications exist, they are not necessarily legally enforceable. Parties can enter into a post-adoption contact agreement to enforce the terms of their relationship. It is highly recommended to consult with an adoption attorney to determine the parameters of contact between the birth mother and the adoptive family before and after the placement.

Ultimately, it is important for adoptive parents and birth parents to discuss the type of open or closed relationship they desire. Also, keep the best interest of the child in mind when thinking about an open or closed adoption.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an adoption attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

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United States Adoption Statistics

October 23, 2015

Intertwined Hearts.jpgNational Adoption Awareness Month (November) is just around the corner. Here are some statistics about adoption in the United States:

• U.S. families adopt approximately 140,000 children each year. Source

• 7 million Americans are adopted. Source

• Over 100 million Americans have experienced adoption in their immediate family. Source

• 4 out of 10 (or 81.5 million) U.S. adults have considered pursuing adoption. Source

• Most American adoptions (59%) occur through foster care. Source

• The average child waits three years in foster care until they are adopted. Source

• 78% of Americans believe the U.S. should be doing more to encourage adoption. Source

Stay tuned to our blog for more information about adoption in our November adoption series (in honor of National Adoption Awareness Month)!

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

photo credit: Hearts via photopin (license)

Kamakahi v. ASRM et al.: The Price of Human Eggs

July 31, 2015

egg donation.jpgKamakahi v. ASRM et al., a putative class action lawsuit filed in 2011, has been making headlines lately. Two former egg donors brought the federal lawsuit, alleging that price guidelines followed by fertility clinics violate antitrust laws by limiting the amount of compensation women can receive for their eggs. The plaintiffs further contend that by agreeing to the guidelines created by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), the fertility industry conspired to restrain trade and fix prices. The guidelines presently state that in regard to compensation for egg donors, "sums of $5,000 or more require justification," and "sums above $10,000 are not appropriate." The Northern District of California permitted the case to move forward earlier this year, and it will likely reach the trial stage next year. Below is a summary of the general arguments supporting each side of the lawsuit.

Arguments Supporting Kamakahi
• The pricing guidelines set by the ASRM and the SART, where 90% of the U.S.'s fertility clinics are members, constitute illegal price-fixing. Women are deprived of a free market to compensate them for donating their eggs, permitting fertility clinics to generate large profits for themselves.
• Price caps do not exist for sperm donation, which is less risky and less invasive than egg donation.
• The price caps are sexist and prevent women from undertaking risks if they choose to. Seattle University Law professor Julie Shapiro states in this article: "We don't ban people from cleaning nuclear waste sites because it carries some risk, we allow them to charge more to make up for it."

Arguments Supporting the ASRM and the SART
• Price caps deter coercion and exploitation.
• The purpose of the pricing guidelines is not to generate profits for fertility clinics, but to prevent potential donors from hiding an unfavorable medical history, or taking medical risks they would otherwise avoid.
• The price caps also serve to restrain individuals from paying more money for eggs from donors with certain physical and mental attributes. University of Texas law and bioethics professor John Robertson states in this article that "it's a concern about eugenics, that [people] will pay more for eggs from an Ivy League grad."

Stay tuned to our blog for more updates as this case develops!

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times

Spotlight on ICSG: Controlled Expenses

July 31, 2015

Bus Stop.jpgAs family law attorneys, we are frequently asked what types of expenses child support is supposed to cover. Although generally child support is to be used for expenses benefiting the child, the Indiana Child Support Guidelines (ICSG) give several examples of expenses that are called "controlled expenses" that are to be paid by the custodial parent, who is usually the parent receiving child support (see "Definition - Controlled Expenses" from ICSG below). Generally, "controlled expenses" are everyday expenses like school lunches and standard items that are not necessarily duplicated by parents such as clothing and backpacks. Parents should note that the guidelines do not give a definitive list of everything that could be considered a controlled expense, so some communication may be required between parties and counsel if there is a question about whether an expense falls into this category. Common situations where an issue arises occur when the children attend private school or require school supplies that are more expensive than normal. Parents in joint physical custody arrangements may also have to work together as their parenting time arrangement means that there is no designated "custodial parent." In these situations, we usually counsel clients to designate a parent to serve as the custodial parents for the purpose of controlled expenses, or we encourage the parties to reach their own arrangements with respect to how controlled expenses are divided. As with many other advantages to informal settlement and mediation, the ability to reach agreements outside of court allows parties to tailor agreements to their children's specific needs. Furthermore, addressing these types of issues in child support agreements may reduce disputes and litigation fees down the road.

Definition - Controlled Expenses: This type of expense for the child(ren) is typically paid by the custodial parent and is not transferred or duplicated. Controlled expenses are items like clothing, education, school books and supplies, ordinary uninsured health care and personal care. For example, the custodial parent buys a winter coat for the child. The noncustodial parent will not buy another one. The custodial parent controls this type of expense. The controlled expenses account for 15% of the cost of raising the child. The parenting time credit is based on the more time the parents share, the more expenses are duplicated and transferred. The controlled expenses are not shared and remain with the parent that does not get the parenting time credit. Controlled expenses are generally not a consideration unless there is equal parenting time. These categories of expenses are not pertinent for litigation. They are presented only to explain the factors used in developing the parenting time credit formula. The percentages were assigned to these categories after considering the treatment of joint custody by other states and examining published data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey.

What do you think? Have questions about controlled expenses? Tweet us @HARDENJACKSONLAW.

photo credit: Collaborate and listen via photopin (license)

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Spotlight on ICSG: The 6% Rule

July 27, 2015

Baby at Doctor's Checkup.jpgDivision of medical expenses is always a big issue for our clients. Generally, the issue of coverage and insurance premiums is included in child support calculations because the party who provides insurance coverage is entitled to credit for the weekly amount paid. Therefore, the biggest remaining issue between parents is how to divide uninsured medical expenses for the children. When parties can agree, they have the ability to be flexible about how they want to divide these expenses, and there are many good reasons why parties would want to tailor the way they divide these expenses to their specific situation. In some cases, one party has supplemental coverage, a Health Savings Account, Flex Spending account, or other employer benefits that make sense to exhaust before dividing expenses between parties. Parents of children with specific medical issues may also need to specifically plan how uninsured expenses will be divided throughout the year.

When parents cannot agree or do not believe their case requires special accommodations, we advise clients of the 6% Rule, which is how the Indiana Child Support Guidelines ICSG suggest dividing uninsured medical expenses. While there is no guarantee that a judge would order parties to divide uninsured expenses pursuant to the 6% Rule, it is a generally accepted method and endorsed by the ICSG. Therefore, there is a good chance that a party's judge is familiar with the rule and frequently implements it in his/her child support orders. Per the 6% Rule, the parent who is assigned to pay controlled expenses, usually the custodial parent and the one receiving child support, is required to pay an initial portion of ordinary uninsured health care expenses. The theory behind this is that the parent who is receiving child support can use a percentage of the support toward ordinary uninsured health care expenses. Therefore, the parent who is assigned to pay controlled expenses is expected to pay uninsured medical expenses up to 6% of the annual basic child support obligation, which can be calculated from the parties' completed child support worksheet. Beyond that, the parties divide any additional uninsured medical expenses pursuant to their pro rata shares of the parties' total gross income, which is also listed on the parties' completed worksheet.

One major caution we always have for clients who follow the 6% Rule is the importance of good record-keeping. As with any other co-parenting issue, parties have to exchange information, billing statements, and receipts in order to determine if one parent has met his/her 6% threshold and how bills should be divided. Without a proper exchange of information and accurate record keeping, it can be difficult for an attorney to help resolve a payment dispute under this rule.

What do you think of the 6% Rule? Have any questions? Tweet us @HARDENJACKSONLAW.

photo credit: Check-up via photopin (license)

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

France to Legally Recognize Children Born Abroad Through Surrogacy

July 10, 2015

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The Cour de cassation, France's highest court, ruled last week to legally recognize children born abroad through surrogacy. The decision stems from two cases where the respective fathers sought birth certificates for their children born to surrogates in Russia.

The ruling legally connects the children to their parents, and registers them as French citizens. France did not previously recognize the children's foreign birth certificates, and they were unable to obtain identification cards, French passports, state health care, and other services to which French citizens are entitled. Children born to surrogates abroad are now granted the same legal rights as French-born children. Although surrogacy remains illegal in France, this holding remedies the situation of children stuck in legal limbo as a result of France's failure to grant them legal recognition.

The court's decision follows several recent European rulings that have been favorable to surrogacy. In December 2014, Germany's highest court ordered Germany to legally recognize children born through surrogacy. The European Court of Human Rights issued two similar rulings in June 2014. Stay tuned to our blog for more updates in the evolving field of surrogacy law.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Photo Credit: blogs.cvsflags.com

Obergefell v. Hodges and Its Impact in Indiana

June 26, 2015


marriageequality.jpg On June 26th, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued an historic ruling that invalidated state bans on same-sex marriage and held that same-sex marriage is a Fourteenth Amendment right. The decision results in the United States becoming the twenty-first country in the world to nationally legalize same-sex marriage. What does this landmark decision mean for Indiana, where same-sex marriage has been legal since the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban in the fall of 2014?

The Indianapolis Star recently published an article that answers the above question. The article notes that although same-sex marriage is already legal in Indiana, the Court's ruling will impact our state through the nationwide recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. Previously, marriages granted in states such as Indiana, where same-sex marriage was legal before the ruling, were not recognized by states that banned same-sex marriage. The article cites the following quote by Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor, Steve Sanders, to illustrate this concept:

"If you're married in one state, you're married everywhere. That rule has long applied to virtually all heterosexual marriages. What this ruling means is same-sex couples cannot be excluded from the protection of that rule."

Otherwise, the ruling should not prompt any changes in Indiana. The state has granted marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has legally recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states since the fall of 2014. Stay tuned to our blog for more exciting legal developments in the wake of this groundbreaking decision.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

photo credit: https://richarddawkins.net/2014/10/next-gay-marriage-fight-religious-exemptions/

Why Have Gestational Surrogacy Agreements in Indiana?

June 12, 2015

616726_handshake.jpgSurrogacy laws vary by state. Indiana law currently holds that all surrogacy contracts are void and unenforceable. However, Indiana law does not prohibit the act of surrogacy itself, and recent court rulings have been favorable to surrogacy. Indiana has strong case law on the establishment of parentage in the biological parents of a child born through gestational surrogacy (In re Paternity and Maternity of Infant R., 922 N.E.2d 59 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010)). Despite Indiana's antiquated statute, surrogacy agreements are still completed in Indiana for the following reasons:

1. Experienced assisted reproductive professionals require surrogacy agreements. Most physicians and fertility clinics do not permit parties to enter into a surrogacy arrangement without a contract. Mental health specialists and reproductive law attorneys often have a similar requirement.

2. Surrogacy agreements delineate the parties' expectations, liabilities, and responsibilities. Surrogacy contracts provide stability by ensuring that everyone is on the same page. These agreements contain carefully drafted provisions that address every aspect of the surrogacy, from confidentiality to the payment schedule. They also foster accountability among the parties. Additionally, surrogacy contracts diminish the potential for disputes, as parties can refer to the agreement for guidance in the event of an uncertainty.

3. There is potential for enforceability in Indiana. Very little guidance from the courts exists regarding enforceability. Therefore, certain provisions may be enforceable under Indiana law based upon equity, performance, and the best interests of the child. Surrogacy agreements typically contain a severability clause, which states that if a court invalidates some part(s) of a contract, the remainder of the agreement will be enforceable. Indiana courts may also admit surrogacy contracts as evidence of intent should a dispute arise.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.


Photo Credit: http://swart-deschepper.nl/en/termination-law/golden-handshake

How do I Obtain a Student Visa to Study in the U.S.?

June 5, 2015

Student Visa Blog.jpgIf you are a citizen of a foreign country and wish to study in the United States ("U.S."), you will need to apply for a U.S. student visa. Below is a basic step-by-step guide to obtaining an F-1 visa, a non-immigrant visa used by international students pursuing an academic degree or a shorter course of study in the U.S.

Step 1: Apply to the U.S. Academic Institution(s)
An international student must first satisfy the academic institution's admissions criteria. Carefully read the school's website to learn about admissions requirements for international students. The application process may involve completing standardized tests, writing an admissions essay, and submitting recommendation letters. Upon the student's acceptance, the institution will issue an I-20 form (titled "Certificate of Eligibility"). The I-20 certifies that the student has been accepted to a full-time academic program and is financially capable of supporting themselves in the U.S. throughout their course of study. The I-20 also permits the student to apply for an F-1 visa.

Step 2: Application
Students apply through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate within their home country. The application process includes the completion of the DS-160 (online application for the F-1 visa) and DS 157 forms (for all males between the ages of 16-45), the submission of a photo, and the payment of an application fee.

Step 3: Interview
The F-1 visa interview generally takes place in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate located in the applicant's home country. The applicant must bring the following documents to the interview: the I-20, a valid passport, the DS-160 form, and an application fee receipt. The Embassy or Consulate may also request additional documents, such as transcripts and test scores.

Step 4: Approval
If the applicant is approved and an F-1 visa is issued, it's important to keep the following in mind:
• F-1 visa holders may not enter the US more than thirty days before classes begin.
• F-1 visa holders are permitted to work on-campus for up to twenty hours a week. Students who wish to work longer hours must receive authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS may also grant permission for Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training for a total of twelve months.
• F-1 visa holders may remain in the U.S. for up to sixty days after the completion of their academic program.
Please note that F-1 visa approval is not guaranteed, and the applicant can be denied issuance of the F-1 visa if they are found ineligible pursuant to the law.

For assistance with your student visa application, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

photo credit: My collection of passport stamps via photopin (license)

The Legal Status of Frozen Embryos

May 29, 2015

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The Sofia Vergara/Nick Loeb frozen embryo dispute has taken the nation by storm. The battle over their frozen embryos begs the question: are embryos persons or property? This blog post will provide a brief overview of the legal status of embryos, as the answer varies throughout the United States.

Courts and state legislatures have categorized embryos into four distinct groups:

1. Persons
The first classification perceives frozen embryos as persons, entitled to all rights conferred to human beings. For example, Louisiana defines an embryo as a "juridical person, with all attendant rights and protections."

2. Property
The second classification categorizes embryos as property. In York v. Jones (1989), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia held that embryos are property.

3. No Rights
The third classification embodies the U.S. Supreme Court's viewpoint expressed in Roe v. Wade (1973) that the term "persons" is inapplicable to the unborn. Under this perspective, embryos do not receive any rights, as rights are accorded after birth.

4. "Special Consideration"
The fourth and increasingly more common classification consists of an intermediate perspective that grants embryos "special consideration." The exact meaning of "special consideration" is presently unclear. This perspective is derived from the Tennessee Supreme Court's articulation in Davis v. Davis (1992) that embryos should receive "special respect due to their potential for human life."

As assisted reproductive technology becomes more widespread, disputes regarding the legal status of embryos are bound to arise. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on developments in reproductive law.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

photo credit: John P Clare via photopin cc

Parenting After Divorce: 5 Quick Tips

May 22, 2015

Little girl on the country fence.jpgThere are manuals to parenting. There are manuals to divorce. Then there are manuals to parenting through and after divorce. While manuals are practical for those who have time to sit and read them day after day, many of our readers are on-the-go people with kids, pets, and jobs. After sifting through our experiences and the resources available to us, we narrowed parenting after divorce down to 5 quick tips that will improve your outlook on the choices you make as a parent.

1. Have faith that things will work out.
Most blogs might save this one for last - it's that "feel good" phrase that's supposed to get you through each day. But sometimes, your faith will be shaken. This phrase won't work. You won't believe in yourself. The good news is: you don't always have to. Find an outlet for yourself that can restore that faith. Whether that's a church group, a best friend, or simply your favorite soundtrack, it's imperative for you to realize that you're not alone. Use your support network to find the faith that others have in you.

2. Find joy in other places in your life.
A new parenting time schedule may give you more free time than you had during the marriage. So what can you do? Find a hobby. Pull out your bucket list and start doing some of the things that you dreamed you would do when you were in your twenties. Focus on getting ahead in your career - how long has it been since you earned that promotion you've been working for?

One divorced mom nailed it when she said, "The best gift that I can give my child is showing him what a happy person looks like."

3. Don't fall for traps that your ex (or soon-to-be ex) wants you to fall for.
It's likely that your ex will try to mess with your emotions - and who better to do it? He or she knows every weakness, every strength, and every tendency that you've exhibited through dating, marriage, and raising children. One of the most common traps that divorced parents fall for is the "competition" of getting the children to like one parent more than the other. Your ex might start buying expensive gifts, taking your children on elaborate vacations, or become the "yes man" of your children's lives. This means that sometimes you'll seem like the bad guy when it's time to do the tough parenting that goes with homework, chores, bedtime, and vegetables. You'll start hearing phrases like, "Well Dad lets us stay up until ten o'clock!" or "That's not fair, Mom always takes us out for ice cream after school."

Even though these words will sting, your children will eventually realize the importance of the everyday parenting that makes you seem comparatively cruel and unfeeling. In the meantime, you can combat the "competition game" by competing in healthy things that don't include your children's affection. For example, you can compete to have the best time with your kids. You might not be able to afford the gifts and vacations that your ex can, but you know your children best. What things mean more to them than anything else in the world? Spend time with them to do those things. Another healthy way to cope is to compete to be the kindest person they have contact with. It's possible that your ex will badmouth you in front of your children or behind your back - how you handle those situations is everything. Make sure to set an example that you would want your kiddos to follow.

4. Keep jealousy out of your child's life.
Your ex might start dating again almost immediately. They might buy a boat or a new house or land the career they've been talking about since your wedding day. Things might not be going as well for you (or so it seems) but it's important to remember that while you can feel as jealous as you want, you cannot exhibit this in front of your children. Remember to stay selfless and never put them in the position of taking sides or feeling sorry for you.

5. Forgive yourself and move on from your ex.
No one will benefit from you beating yourself up over "what could have been". You definitely won't get happier by dwelling on how angry you are that she cheated on you. Holding onto the feelings of anger, regret, and hurt that inevitably resulted from the end of your marriage and the divorce process will cause more pain and keep you stuck in a rut. Move on from this, forgive yourself, and let peace into your life.


What do you think? Tweet your thoughts to @HARDENJACKSON.


photo credit: At the Confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers 05/1973 via photopin (license)


The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Tips for Financing Surrogacy

May 15, 2015

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First, it's important to consider the costs involved in surrogacy. Intended Parents typically cover the following expenses:
Medical Procedures: This is likely the most expensive facet of surrogacy. Surrogacy includes in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or artificial insemination, as well as the medication costs that accompany these procedures. Additional expenses include tests, monitoring, and pregnancy care (if the embryo transfer is successful).

Mental Health Expenses: The Intended Parents and the Gestational Surrogate typically undergo mental health assessments prior to entering into a surrogacy arrangement. Many gestational surrogacy agreements also provide the Gestational Surrogate the option to attend several counseling sessions throughout her participation in the surrogacy arrangement.

Legal Expenses: Surrogacy involves two legal processes. The first is a gestational surrogacy agreement that delineates the obligations, rights, and responsibilities of each party. The agreement also contains a payment schedule if the Intended Parents are paying the Gestational Surrogate for her services. Intended Parents also pay for an attorney to review the agreement on the Gestational Surrogate's behalf, unless she chooses to waive this right. Both parties negotiate the terms of the agreement until they are comfortable signing it. The second legal process is the establishment of parentage. This involves petitioning the court to issue an order stating that the Intended Parents are the child's legal parents.

Agency Fees: While not required, Intended Parents may choose to navigate the surrogacy process using an agency. Agencies provide a multitude of services to facilitate the surrogacy arrangement. Agency costs vary depending upon the agency.

Gestational Surrogate Compensation: Intended Parents may enter into a surrogacy arrangement where they compensate the Gestational Surrogate for her services. Intended Parents should first consult with an attorney to ensure surrogacy compensation is legal in their state. The amount Intended Parents will pay the Gestational Surrogate is typically negotiated by the parties during the agreement drafting phase or by the agency.

Second, Intended Parents should reflect upon the available financial options, including those listed below:
Agency Payment Plan: Some agencies provide financing programs where Intended Parents can create payment plans and make payments in intervals.

IVF Grants: A quick Google search for "IVF Grants" will reveal various grants and scholarships that Intended Parents can apply for to help fund their surrogacy journey.

Infertility Loans: Financial providers exist that offer loans specifically for fertility treatment. Eligibility for these loans is based on the Intended Parents' credit history.

Home Equity Loans: Intended Parents can obtain a loan based on their home's equity. Keep in mind that a default on the loan may result in the loss of the home.

401(k) Loans: Financial Analyst Mike Anderson of NerdWallet states the following about borrowing against your 401(k) for surrogacy purposes: " Borrowing against your 401(k) is not recommended unless in dire need. The Internal Revenue Service considers it a hardship withdrawal, and financial experts advise that you only borrow against your 401(k) if your financial need cannot be met by any other means. Technically, this financial product is not a loan, and it has no impact on your credit history. However, it can inhibit your contributions to retirement until you've repaid the entire loan."

Crowdfunding: This recent phenomenon permits Intended Parents to create fundraising websites to help offset the costs of surrogacy. Crowdfunding is gaining popularity among individuals seeks fertility treatment, as this article indicates.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

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