For those who wish to grow their family through surrogacy, the process can be difficult and complex.
Surrogacy is legal in the UK. However, because of the current law in England dealing with surrogacy arrangements, a great deal of trust is needed between the intended parents and the surrogate. Surrogacy agreements are not currently enforceable by UK law although it is still a good idea to have one – the agreement sets out how the arrangement will work and the commitment that each person is making to the other. One particular commitment is the paying of expenses. In the UK it is illegal to pay a surrogate, but it is usual for expenses to be reimbursed. There are various rules and regulations about expenses and payments. Our specialist family solicitors can guide you through this often complicated aspect of the process.
We understand that it is important to make strong foundations and have clear communication from the outset. Our team can assist you from the earliest stages of the process through to the making of the parental order.
Some clinics may require that the intended parents have taken legal advice in advance of treatment commencing to ensure that they understand about the parental order process after the children is born.
Because of complex legal position in England, many couples look abroad for their surrogate which brings an additional set of potential problems in relation to not only the law of the other country but immigration too.
We can also advise you on the rights of the person donating the sperm as the legal position will depend on whether the sperm was donated via a licensed clinic. There is the issue of parenthood, particularly legal parenthood and how it should be transferred to intended parents. A court order either a parental order or adoption order are required, although it is most common for there to be a parental order. Without a parental order the intended parents may not be the child’s legal parent under English law. At times there can be complications when transferring legal parenthood which we would guide you through.
The parental order has to be applied for within 6 months of the child being born. It involves the family court, and a court-appointed social worker. Parental order applications are typically heard by magistrates. They will be heard by a High Court judge if the child has been born overseas or there are questions over whether the criteria are met. The vast majority of surrogacy cases in England and Wales are straightforward and it is rare that a parental order to transfer parenthood to the IP(s) is not considered in the best interests of the child.
Although it rarely happens, if there is a dispute following the child’s birth, we can also assist you with making an application to the court for a child arrangements order.
It is also sensible to consider making a will before you embark on your surrogacy journey – a will can protect the child in the event of the death of the surrogate or the intended parents. Our wills trusts and probate department can help you with this for a fixed fee.
Our employment law department can also advise you on issues around parental leave.
Our family law department has held Tier 1 status in the prestigious Legal 500 rankings for five years. This is a relatively new area of law which is not dealt with by many family law departments. Our experts can assist you through this journey.
Following on from last week’s National Surrogacy Week, we take a look back in the highly anticipated Surrogacy report. In March 2023 we eagerly received the Surrogacy Report from the Law Commission. This report set…
National surrogacy week was founded in 2019 and runs from the 1st August – 7th August each year. National Surrogacy Week’s aim is to raise awareness and educate the public about the surrogacy process. Surrogacy…
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