In the last 20 years the availability of surrogacy has brought happiness to many families. Surrogacy law is complex and evolving. The medical science is also growing fast and some aspects may be leaving the law behind.
Surrogacy arrangements in England are not illegal provided they are altruistic. No commercial arrangements are permitted although it is not an offence to pay reasonable expenses and the court can retroactively approve payments.
There are three organisations in the United Kingdom which match applicants with potential surrogates, and as they are not-for-profit organisations this is perfectly legal. They also provide support for applicants through the process. However, at the time of writing, they either have closed their books or have excessively long waiting lists due to scarcity of potential surrogates.
For this reason many intending parents either find surrogates through informal networks or look abroad. Both of these avenues carry certain risks and it is prudent to speak to us at an early stage if you are pursuing these avenues. However, regardless of where the surrogacy arrangement takes place, the intending parents must apply for a parental order to obtain legal parenthood for the resulting child/children.
The criteria for obtaining a parenting order, whichever route is followed, are numerous and include that there must be a surrogacy arrangement in place, one of the intending parents must have provided genetic material for the child, and the application must be made during the six-month period after the child is born but not in the first six weeks after birth. (This time limit is currently being reviewed and it may become possible for applications to be made prior to birth if the legislation is amended. You need to speak to us if this timing has not been met.)
Legal problems can arise for foreign citizens who are living in the UK who are seeking a surrogacy arrangement, or potentially for dual citizens of the UK and elsewhere. Another issue of potential concern is where the surrogacy has taken place abroad when the parties were living there, but now need recognition of the child for the purposes of English law. For example, in relation to inheritance or residency issues.
If you would like further advice, please get in touch with us now.
Or call us: +44 (0)20 7430 8470