If you thinking are about growing your family through surrogacy, either in the UK or abroad, you will need specialist advice from a family solicitor. There is a lot to consider, surrogacy arrangements are not legally binding, much of the terminology is confusing and unless you have specialist advice you may face difficulties after the baby is born.
What is surrogacy?
A surrogacy arrangement is one in which a woman carries and delivers a child for another couple. They are an increasingly popular way of couples growing their family in the UK. The woman who carries the child is called the “surrogate” and the parents who want to care for the child are called the “commissioning” or “social” parents.
There are two main types of surrogacy arrangements in the UK:
“Straight” or “traditional surrogacy” – When the surrogate’s own eggs are used with the sperm of the social dad
“Host” or “Gestational Surrogacy” – When the surrogate is unrelated to the child and therefore eggs and sperm are used from the social parents or from another individual.
Are surrogacy arrangements legal in the UK?
Surrogacy arrangements are legal in the UK, but it is not legal to make an arrangement for commercial gain. Therefore you cannot make commercial payments to a prospective surrogate and advertising as a surrogate, or for a surrogate, is not allowed. The arrangement is not legally binding, but that does not mean it is not important. It sets out the expectations and intentions of the parties and it is always advisable to have an arrangement in place at the outset.
What will my rights be when the child is born?
When the child is born the surrogate is the legal parent. If the surrogate is married then her husband will be the legal father, but if the surrogate is unmarried the social father can be recorded on the birth certificate. A child can never have more than two parents in the UK and so to transfer parentage to the social parents must be done by the Court, most usually by a Parental order. The application for the Order must be made within six months of the child’s birth.
When the Court is considering whether to make a Parental Order a number of factors must be considered and satisfied, for example one of the parents must be biologically related to the child, conception must have taken place artificially, the surrogate (and her husband if she is married) must have given their consent.
Ultimately the Court can only make an Order if it is in the best interests of the child but these and other factors will be taken into account.
For further advice on surrogacy issues, please contact Louise Allard or Sabrina Bailey on 020 7993 2936.