Less than one month to go: deadline for historic single parent Parental Orders

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In January 2019, after much anticipation, the UK surrogacy rules were amended to allow single applicants to apply for a Parental Order for children born via a surrogate.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Remedial) Order 2018 also allowed a six-month window for those who were previously unable to apply, to make an application now, with a deadline of 2nd July 2019. Whilst it may still be possible to apply after this deadline, the process is likely to be more complicated.

What is a Parental Order?

The UK legal solution for resolving parenthood in surrogacy cases is a Parental Order. It’s a court order which makes the intended parent or parents the legal parents of the child. It permanently extinguishes the parenthood of the surrogate and her spouse. Previously, applicants were required to be married or cohabiting ‘in an enduring relationship’. Once a Parental Order is made, the birth is re-registered to record the intended parent/s as the legal parent/s. A new birth certificate is issued and the original birth certificate will be sealed as part of the Parental Order Register. This will only be accessible to the child once he or she is over 18 (in a similar way to an adopted child).

How do I apply for a Parental Order?

If you are a single parent who used a surrogate for your baby, but have previously been unable to apply for a Parental Order (and perhaps you had to apply for a Child Arrangements Order instead), you now have less than one month to apply. Applications can be made in person but can also be complex, so we would encourage anyone to seek advice from a family solicitor before applying.

As part of the application process, the court will appoint a Parental Order Reporter from Cafcass to consider the application and any documents prepared with the surrogate. The previous conditions for using a surrogate, including those surrounding any payments, still apply at present. It’s therefore sensible to obtain advice in advance of any application to ensure these conditions have also been met.

The application process is different for Scotland and Northern Ireland. We would therefore recommend that you seek legal advice in that area should this apply to your family.

How we can help

If you are considering applying for a Parental Order, or seeking advice on any other surrogate arrangement, our dedicated family law team based in Bristol and South Gloucestershire can help.

Our specialist surrogacy solicitors can advise you on the range of issues, including international surrogacy, legal rights of surrogates and parental rights. For more information, call us on 0117 905 9763 or complete our online enquiry form.


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