The Michigan Family Protection Act: What You Should Know

Family sitting on the couch

As an estate planning law firm, one of the things we frequently advise people is that when they experience a family change, like the birth of a child, they should consider updating their estate plan to protect their family. Soon, even more Michigan families will have the opportunity to plan for the future after the birth of a child, thanks to the Michigan Family Protection Act (MFPA). The MFPA makes surrogacy contracts and paid surrogacy legal in Michigan for the first time in decades.

What is the Michigan Family Protection Act?

The Michigan Family Protection Act is a package of bills—Michigan House Bills 5207 through 5215. Taken together, the bills provide legal support and protection for more family structures and families who have children in nontraditional ways. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the MFPA into law on April 1, 2024.

Some of the effects of the MFPA include:

  • Legalizing and regulating surrogacy in Michigan. Advocates for the MFPA assert that this creates an environment that protects not only parents and surrogates, but children born through surrogacy.

  • Ensuring that people who serve as gestational surrogates have independent legal representation to safeguard their rights, receive fair compensation for their services, and receive appropriate medical screening before entering into a surrogacy agreement.

  • Ensuring that children who are born through assisted reproductive technology (ART), including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy are treated equally under state law.

  • Eliminating administrative hurdles that made it more challenging for LGBTQ+ families to obtain documentation of their parental status, and preventing unjust denial of the legal parent-child relationship.

  • Making it easier and more cost-effective for all Michigan families to obtain formal recognition of the legal relationship between parents and their children.

As every parent knows, the relationship between parent and child is a strong and precious one. The Michigan Family Protection Act will make that relationship available to more Michigan residents—and will make it easier for parents to align the legal nature of that relationship with the personal one.

What the Michigan Family Protection Act Means to Michigan Residents

Making parenthood available to more Michigan residents and protecting the legal relationship between parents and children sounds like a good thing, and it is. But the true impact of the Michigan Family Protection Act is best seen through individual stories.

Prior to the enactment of the MFPA, Michigan had some of the strictest surrogacy laws in the nation. The result was that a Michigan couple, Tammy and Jordan Myers, were forced to adopt their own biological children. Tammy Myers was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and became unable to bear her own children. She and her husband Jordan worked with a gestational carrier to have their twin son and daughter, born January 11, 2021.

Unfortunately, because of the law in Michigan, Tammy and Jordan were not recognized as the legal parents of the children who were biologically theirs and whom they were raising—even with their surrogate fully acknowledging their parenthood. They finally became the twins’ legal parents almost two years later, in December 2022, when the adoption was finalized. Had the MFPA been in effect, the family could have avoided the costly and stressful adoption process. Tammy was a vocal advocate for the passage of the MFPA, to spare other families what hers went through.

Other Michigan families who have worked with surrogates have missed out on some of the joy and excitement of the pregnancy because their surrogate was out of state. One such couple was Randy Rowe and Kyle Keigan, whose surrogate lived in Colorado. While grateful for their now three-year-old child, they wish they had been able to be present for their surrogate’s doctor appointments and ultrasounds.

Being able to establish immediate parentage of a child born through surrogacy is more than just a personal or emotional matter; it is an economic, legal, and practical one. As Governor Whitmer observed, “Can you imagine not being able to have your name on your child’s birth certificate, not being able to put them on your health insurance?” The Michigan Family Protection Act was designed to prevent these outcomes for Michigan families and provide them with security regarding their rights and relationships.

Estate Planning Attorneys for All Families

No matter the configuration of your family or how it came into being, it is important to have an estate plan to protect your family and their financial security. To learn more about the importance of having an estate plan designed for you, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney who understands your needs and the laws that apply to you. The knowledgeable estate planning attorneys at Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras work with clients to establish comprehensive estate plans for growing families. Schedule a consultation today by calling (248) 213-9514 in Michigan or (941) 222-2199 in Florida to learn how we can assist you. You can also use our simple online contact form.