Iowa Supreme Court Resolves Case Concerning Surrogacy Contracts

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What children’s expenses are covered by child support?”


The desire to have a child of your own is a powerful one for many people. Though most are able to do so easily, there are many couples who cannot. Either due to age or infertility, it is not always an option to simply go out and have your own biological child. It is for this reason that some couples begin considering alternatives, including hiring a surrogate. Those who go down this road are required to put great faith in not only the woman chosen to act as a surrogate, but also in the legal system to ensure their rights are protected.


holding-baby-foot-Charlotte-Divorce-Lawyer-Mooresville-Family-Law-Attorney-300x196Though surrogacy has existed for many years, there are still a number of states in the US where the law is unclear concerning the validity of surrogacy agreements. Though they may not be specifically prohibited, they may also not be specifically endorsed. In these states, couples find themselves in an often-uncomfortable legal limbo. If couples move ahead with surrogacy, they run the risk that the agreement may be deemed unenforceable; a potentially devastating outcome for a couple eager to have a child.


That is exactly what happened to a couple in Iowa who decided they wanted to hire a surrogate to carry a child they were unable to have on their own. The case began when Paul and Chantele Montover decided back in 2016 that they wanted to raise a child together. The two were 50 years old and unable to conceive. They put an ad on Craigslist asking for someone who was interested in acting as their surrogate. A woman, identified as TB, agreed to carry an egg from an unknown donor that had been implanted with Paul’s sperm. TB eventually became pregnant with twins, one of whom died shortly after birth. The surviving child then became the focus of a protracted legal dispute.


The problem is that the relationship between the Montovers and their surrogate began to unravel during the pregnancy. What started as an amicable relationship quickly deteriorated and TB decided she no longer wanted to give up her parental rights. Though she had initially agreed to accept a payment of $13,000 for acting as a surrogate, she refused the money and said she wanted to maintain a relationship with the child she had carried over the previous months. The Montovers took TB to court and got a judge to agree to give Paul Montover (the biological father) custody of the child until the matter was fully resolved.


The argument put forward by the Montovers was that this was a valid contractual agreement that should now be enforced by the courts. The fact that the surrogate had changed her mind should be immaterial. She signed a formal surrogacy contract and that should be enough to ensure that the Montovers, and only the Montovers, were the child’s legal parents.


TB and her attorney argued that the surrogacy agreement should not be found valid, arguing that it violates existing laws to agree to sell a child. They claim that Iowa laws, which prevent one person from selling another, should serve to invalidate surrogacy contracts. TB says she now believes surrogacy is wrong and should be made illegal, in Iowa and across the country.


The Iowa Supreme Court chose to side with the Montovers. The Court said that the Iowa legislature made a specific exception to the law about selling people for surrogates. By doing so, the legislature clearly expressed its desire to authorize the practice. The Court decided that nothing in Iowa law prevents surrogacy agreements from being upheld in court and found the practice constitutional. TB has since said she plans on appealing the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. For now though, parents in Iowa considering surrogacy can breathe easy knowing the courts will support the practice.


If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, then you need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.





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