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For many modern families, surrogacy has become an increasingly viable option – both in terms of accessibility and cost.
But surrogacy arrangements rely heavily on trust. The surrogate entrusts the welfare of the child she’s carrying to the intended parents, and they trust her to transfer parental rights. For the agreement to work, communication and empathy is a must – on both sides of the relationship.
If you’re considering using a surrogate or you’re in a surrogacy agreement, you should seek specialist legal advice as early as possible. We help single people, same sex and heterosexual couples and can advise you on all aspects of UK and international surrogacy.
The surrogate’s right
Under UK law, the surrogate (and her husband, if she’s married) will be the child’s legal parents. The surrogate has the legal right to keep the child – even if the baby was conceived using donor eggs or embryos and isn’t genetically related to her.
Surrogacy contracts aren’t legally enforceable, even when entered into and signed by all parties. To become the legal parent of a child born to a surrogate, you only have two options – apply for a parental order or adopt the child.
Becoming the child’s legal parents
So what is a parental order? Put simply, it’s a legal method of transferring parenthood from the surrogate mother (and her partner, if she’s married) to the child’s intended parents.
An application for a parental order must be made before the child is six months old.
To apply for a parental order, you must be genetically related to the child (i.e. the egg, embryo or sperm donor) and in a relationship where you and your partner are married, in a civil partnership or living together.
If neither of you are genetically related to the child (i.e. you used donated sperm and eggs), your only option is adoption. If this is the route you’re taking, you must include a registered adoption agency in the surrogacy process.
Further information on surrogacy law
Surrogacy is an emotional commitment and agreements are often fraught with tension. If you’re considering surrogacy or becoming a surrogate, it’s important that you understand the risks involved in the surrogacy process.
Our specialist surrogacy solicitors can advise you on the range of issues, including international surrogacy, legal rights of surrogates and parental rights. For an informal chat, call us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.
We offer all new clients a free 30 minute consultation with a legal expert in family law, as well as fixed fees on our family law services so you’ll know exactly how much you’ll pay from the start.