California Surrogacy Law Takes Effect Jan. 1

We wrote briefly in September about California's new surrogacy law, which codified legal best practices ... Here is more detail on the new law that I wrote to assist our partner ART service agencies.

In California, we already have very good surrogacy case law, but with the passage of California Assembly Bill 1217, we now have new and improved—and positive—California legislation regarding surrogacy which goes into effect on January 1, 2013.

The good news is that the very strong case law in California (which is surrogacy friendly and considered by many to be the strongest law in the country) remains unchanged. The current case law essentially provides that intended parents in an assisted reproduction arrangement, whether or not biologically related to the resulting child, should be declared the legal parent of the resulting child. The current legislation in California under the Uniform Parentage Act defines the parent-child relationship as the legal relationship existing between a child and the child’s parents, and it governs proceedings to establish that relationship. Existing law provides that a party to an assisted reproduction agreement may bring an action under the Uniform Parentage Act at any time to establish a parent and child relationship consistent with the intent expressed in the agreement. Existing law also regulates the practice of surrogacy facilitators in assisted reproduction agreements, including surrogacy agreements.

The new legislation, however, provides additional guidance relating to the manner in which surrogacy agreements must be executed, when medical procedures can be commenced, and where parental establishment cases may be filed.  Although some of the procedures outlined in the bill were already utilized by experienced assisted reproduction practitioners, they were not required by law.

So, in essence, the new law creates clear guidance and codifies some best practices for the benefit of all involved. There may well be more we can do in California to further codify best practices, but the provisions outlined in the new law clarify for courts what constitutes a properly executed surrogacy agreement, and they help protect all parties to the agreement—surrogate, intended parents and child—from potential exploitation.

In relation to Gestational Surrogacy Agreements, the new law:

  • Requires that intended parents and a surrogate be represented by separate legal counsel.
  • Requires notarization of gestational surrogacy agreements.
  • Requires the execution and notarization of an agreement prior to the administration of medications used in assisted reproduction or any embryo transfer procedure.
  • Requires the parties to a gestational surrogacy agreement to attest, under penalty of perjury as to their compliance with these provisions.
  • Provides that an gestational surrogacy agreement executed in accordance with these provisions is presumptively valid.

In relation to establishing legal parentage between intended parents and the resulting child, the new law:

  • Permits intended parents to establish parentage prior to the child’s birth.
  • Permits intended parents to establish parentage prior to the child’s birth and permits the filing of the parentage action in the county where the child is anticipated to be born, the county where the surrogate or intended parents reside, the county where the agreement was executed, or the county where the medical procedures were performed.
  • Requires that a copy of the gestational surrogacy agreement be filed with the court as part of the parentage action.
  • Seals records of the agreement to all except parties except the intended parents, surrogate, their attorneys and the state Department of Social Services.

The above summary does not take the place of obtaining legal advice based on your unique set of circumstances. As always, it is best to seek such advice from a qualified and experienced assisted reproduction attorney.


Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343



New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016



Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.