My younger son faced surgery for a serious medical problem when he was 13. Already in possession of a keenly dark sense of humor, he quipped, “I bet you wish you could give me back.”

Even though my eyes welled, I was able to come back with a quick rejoinder, “I’m afraid it’s too late. Your warranty period is already up.”

          Toss your assumptions and get legal advice before embarking on arrangements                             that will impact your legal relationship with a child forever.

Of course, kids don’t come with a warranty, but adults choosing to become parents through adoption, sperm and egg donation, surrogacy, or any third party collaboration need to take steps to guarantee their rights to their children. Adoption and parentage laws vary dramatically from state to state, as do the laws regarding third party reproduction, which have not caught up with medical technology.

Toss your assumptions and get legal advice before embarking on arrangements that will impact your legal relationship with a child forever. Thinking about donating sperm to your friend via a sperm donation agreement? Even if you do not intend to be the child’s parent, under New York law, a biological father’s parental rights cannot be terminated by contract. Unless your friend’s partner will adopt the child, which will terminate your parental rights, you could be on the hook for child support. Found a surrogate in New Jersey? Under New Jersey law, a surrogacy agreement is not enforceable until the surrogate consents to having her parental rights terminated 72 hours after the birth. What if she changes her mind? Located a child for adoption through a facilitator online? Under both New Jersey and New York law, payment of a fee to a facilitator for finding a baby is illegal and will prevent you from adopting your child.

Taking the steps to establish or prevent parentage is critical to insure lifelong relationships.