Guidance and support
When you are contemplating surrogacy, it can be hard for parents to be to know where to start. Our specialist surrogacy law solicitors are here to guide you and support you through the legal process.
Here for you
The surrogacy journey can be emotional and fraught with difficulties that need solving. Our expert surrogacy law solicitors, led by partner Robin Charrot, have the surrogacy legal expertise to support and help you.
Why choose the surrogacy law solicitors at Evolve Family Law?
Partners Louise Halford and Robin Charrot founded Evolve Family Law to deliver expert family and children law services with a personal touch. They combine surrogacy law legal expertise with friendly and supportive advice and guidance to help you on your surrogacy journey.
Surrogacy Law – Your Questions Answered
If you are thinking about parenthood through surrogacy, you may have a number of surrogacy options, including the choice of a surrogate-based in the UK or overseas. That’s why it is best to take expert surrogacy law advice before you embark on your surrogacy journey so you are prepared for what may lie ahead of you to achieve your family dreams.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is where a woman plans to have a baby through a Surrogacy Arrangement and to hand the child over to the intended parents. There are many different types of Surrogacy Arrangement.
Is surrogacy legal in the UK?
Surrogacy is legal in the UK provided that it isn’t done commercially or for profit. The UK surrogacy laws allow the intended parents to pay for reasonable expenses for the surrogate. It is best to have a clear understanding of what that means before you enter into a surrogacy arrangement in the UK.
Is a surrogacy agreement enforceable in law in the UK?
A surrogacy agreement is not a legally enforceable contract in the UK. To secure legal rights you need to apply to the Family Court for a Parental Order once the child is born.
Is surrogacy legal overseas?
Surrogacy, including surrogacy where a birth mother is paid for surrogacy services, is legal in some overseas countries. In addition, in some countries, a surrogacy agreement is a legally binding contract between surrogate and intended parents.
Prior to deciding whether to commit to UK surrogacy or to overseas surrogacy, it is best to take expert legal advice so you know where you stand legally. For example, you may be concerned that if you chose the route of overseas surrogacy to achieve parenthood your child won’t be a British citizen at birth or you may encounter entry clearance issues when bringing the child to the UK. It is best that these matters are clarified by taking international family law advice in advance so you understand the legal process.
What is UK surrogacy law?
Under UK surrogacy law, the surrogate mother is recognised as the legal mother of the surrogate child. This is the case even if there is no biological relationship or genetic link with the surrogate mother. In addition, if the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership then her spouse or partner may be treated under UK surrogacy law as the child’s legal father. If the partner of the surrogate did not agree to the surrogacy arrangement they aren’t treated as a legal parent of the surrogate child.
It is important to be aware of UK surrogacy law and to understand that intended parents can have their legal status recognised after the baby’s birth through securing a Parental Order.
Legal recognition as a parent under UK surrogacy laws
If you are a parent to be of a surrogate child then once the child is born you will need to apply for a Parental Order. The making of the Parental Order makes you the child’s legal parent and extinguishes the rights of the birth parent or parents.
To obtain a Parental Order you need to meet a number of conditions:
- The application must be made within six months of the child’s birth.
- The surrogate must consent to the Parental Order and understand that they will be giving up parental rights.
- No payment should have been made to the surrogate save for necessary reasonable expenses. The Court can give retrospective approval to payments made over and above reasonable expenses.
- There must be a genetic connection between the child and at least one of the applicants for the Parental Order.
- At the time of the Parental Order application and the making of the Order, the child’s home must be with you.
- One or both applicants for the Parental Order must be domiciled in the UK.
What does a Parental Order mean?
If you are granted a Parental Order, it means that the Order extinguishes the parental responsibility of the surrogate mother and any other legally recognised surrogate parent. The making of the Order means you have parental responsibility for the child.
Will the Court make a Parental Order?
When deciding whether to make a Parental Order the Court has to take into account a set checklist of factors. As the Order is a bit like an adoption Order the Court considers if the making of the Parental Order is in the best interests of the child during the lifetime of the child. Thus, even if there are other family Orders the Court could make to achieve the parents securing parental responsibility whilst the child is under eighteen and lives with them (for example a Child Arrangements Order) a Parental Order has the added benefit that it creates a legal relationship for the rest of the lives of the parents and child.
How do you apply for a Parental Order?
The application for a Parental Order is made to the local family Court. Surrogacy law solicitors can prepare your Parental Order application, give advice on the consent process, prepare any documents needed and represent you at the Court hearings.
The Court will arrange for an officer from the Child and Family Service to prepare a report (called a Parental Order reporter). The reporter should talk to you and report to the Court on whether the Parental Order application conditions are met and whether it is in the child’s interests to make the Parental Order. Normally, unless there are unusual circumstances or an international element, the Court will make the Parental Order without difficulty.
Surrogacy and birth registration
After a Parental Order is made you can re-register the child’s birth. The child will have a new birth certificate that names the parental Order holders as the child’s parents.
Many couples decide to use a surrogate-based overseas. It is important that you fully understand the surrogacy laws in the country where your surrogate is living. Whatever the laws in the overseas country you will probably need to secure a Parental Order in the UK to obtain legal status and rights under UK children law. In addition to the UK and overseas family law advice, you may also need expert advice on any UK immigration or entry clearance aspects of the surrogacy arrangement. It is important that these details are carefully considered before you commit to the overseas surrogacy arrangement so you understand the journey and process you are embarking on and have a clear idea about timescales.
Robin Charrot is an expert surrogacy law solicitor with an interest in international family law through having worked at a leading offshore law firm. He regularly advises on family cases with international aspects and is a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. Robin works with overseas-based experts in surrogacy law and other relevant professionals, such as immigration lawyers, to make sure your path to parenthood through surrogacy is as smooth and stress-free as possible.