About this Blog

This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Happy Extended Summer Designation Day!

It's that time of year to file tax returns and to designate periods for summer possession and vacation. Most orders provide that the non-custodial parent, let's say John, must notify the primary parent, Jane, by April 1st of when and how he plans to exercise his 30 days of summer possession (if he has a standard possession schedule). He can choose 30 consecutive days or he can break it up into two periods such as 1 week/3 weeks or 2 weeks/2 weeks. If John does not notify Jane by April 1st, then his extended summer possession defaults to the period of possession outlined in the order which is normally the entire month of July. Then Jane must notify John of two weekends that she wants in the summer during his regular possession and extended summer possession. For example, if John has the kids during the entire month of July, Jane can designate July 4th weekend as the weekend that she chooses to exercise. She can also designate a weekend of John's regular periods of possession (1st, 3rd, 5th weekends) in June or August so long as she doesn't choose Father's Day. Please note that the above is based on Standard Possession language. Refer to your Order for specific provisions related to Extended Summer Possession. And remember, you and the other parent can always agree to a possession schedule above and beyond what is in the order, just be sure to get it in writing!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Interested in Embryo Adoption?

MyFox Houston published a news story today titled Embryo adoptions give some couples hope, in which they revealed that there are 600,000 embryos in storage across the country because of in vitro fertilization efforts, or IVF." The story then featured a family who has two biological children, one traditionally adopted child and one child in which the family "adopted a donated embryo." The adoptive mother carried the donated embryo to term. The story discussed embryo adoption at length finding that many families are donating their leftover embryos to families they have chosen (through an agency) who cannot conceive but who are able to carry the embryo to term or use a surrogate to do so.

This particular type of adoption is much more affordable that the traditional adoption and a lot less risky in that the genetic parent cannot decide to parent once the child is born. This is a huge plus for families who are adopting and who want to experience the beauty of pregnancy for the fraction of the cost of a traditional adoption. There are several agencies that assist the genetic parents with finding families for their frozen embryos. These agencies, like Nightlight Christian Adoption, refer to the embryos as "pre-born children".

There are no laws that govern the adoption of embryos and really, use of the term adoption in this particular situation, is a misnomer. The agencies use this term because they treat the process just as they do in traditional adoptions of a child. In traditional adoptions, the child must be born first before the genetic/birth mother can relinquish her rights to the child. In embryo situations, the embryo is treated like property and thus can be contracted or deeded away to another person or entity. In such situations, it is very important for the genetic parents and the adopting parents (receiving parents) to consult a knowledgeable attorney to review the contract and to understand the process. We at the Law Office of Jennifer R. Cochran can help you with that. We review the contract with our clients and advise them as to what their rights and duties are with respect to the contract and also the adoption process. Let us help you grow your family today, whether through traditional adoption, surrogacy or embryo "adoption".

Monday, February 23, 2015

Interested in Surrogacy?

KSAT 12 recently did a news story on Surrogacy in Texas and its regulations or the absence thereof. Texas is one of the few states that allow gestational carriers (surrogates) to be compensated. At the Law Office of Jennifer R. Cochran, we represent surrogates as well as donors and intended parents. We draft or review the donor agreement, gestational agreement, pre-birth orders, and more. It's also important for donors and surrogates to speak with their CPA about the tax consequences. Below is the relevant portion of the Texas Family Code that governs gestational agreements:

Sec. 160.754. GESTATIONAL AGREEMENT AUTHORIZED. (a) A prospective gestational mother, her husband if she is married, each donor, and each intended parent may enter into a written agreement providing that:

(1) the prospective gestational mother agrees to pregnancy by means of assisted reproduction;

(2) the prospective gestational mother, her husband if she is married, and each donor other than the intended parents, if applicable, relinquish all parental rights and duties with respect to a child conceived through assisted reproduction;

(3) the intended parents will be the parents of the child; and

(4) the gestational mother and each intended parent agree to exchange throughout the period covered by the agreement all relevant information regarding the health of the gestational mother and each intended parent.
(b) The intended parents must be married to each other. Each intended parent must be a party to the gestational agreement.

(c) The gestational agreement must require that the eggs used in the assisted reproduction procedure be retrieved from an intended parent or a donor. The gestational mother's eggs may not be used in the assisted reproduction procedure.

(d) The gestational agreement must state that the physician who will perform the assisted reproduction procedure as provided by the agreement has informed the parties to the agreement of:
(1) the rate of successful conceptions and births attributable to the procedure, including the most recent published outcome statistics of the procedure at the facility at which it will be performed;
(2) the potential for and risks associated with the implantation of multiple embryos and consequent multiple births resulting from the procedure;
(3) the nature of and expenses related to the procedure;
(4) the health risks associated with, as applicable, fertility drugs used in the procedure, egg retrieval procedures, and egg or embryo transfer procedures; and
(5) reasonably foreseeable psychological effects resulting from the procedure.

(e) The parties to a gestational agreement must enter into the agreement before the 14th day preceding the date the transfer of eggs, sperm, or embryos to the gestational mother occurs for the purpose of conception or implantation.

(f) A gestational agreement does not apply to the birth of a child conceived by means of sexual intercourse.

(g) A gestational agreement may not limit the right of the gestational mother to make decisions to safeguard her health or the health of an embryo.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 457, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Like it or Not Texas will continue to fight gay marriage

Local and national headlines this week have captured the continuing battle between the Judges and our state government officials on the gay marriage issue. Our own Judge Herman found that the Texas constitutional amendment stating that marriage is between one man and one woman is unconstitutional. This ruling allowed him the ability to further find that a common law marriage existed between two women who resided together and who had drafted wills (but not executed) leaving their estate to the other in a contested probate between the deceased woman's family and her now found common law wife. Judge Herman's ruling then prompted Suzanne Bryant and her partner of 31 years, Sarah Goodfriend, to file a request for injunctive relief from District Judge David Wahlberg (not Judge Herman) in which the Court ordered the County Clerk to issue a marriage license to the couple based on Judge Herman's finding and Ms. Goodfriend's uncertain health. The couple applied for a license immediately after the District Judge signed the order and within minutes wed just outside the County Clerk's office.

Now, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is following in Greg Abbott's footsteps by trying to intervene and get a higher court to void Bryant and Goodfriend's marriage and overturn Judge Herman's ruling. He was successful in appealing to the Texas Supreme Court. The Supreme Court just issued a stay on the issuance of any marriage licenses to gay couples. Now, we wait to see what the higher courts are going to do in the probate case as the district case was brilliantly nonsuited after the wedding.

This is why it is so important to all unmarried couples - gay and straight - to make sure that they have the properly drafted and executed documents in place to protect their loved ones from their own families! We can help you with that. Call us today for a free consultation on planning packages.