As UK and international surrogacy law can be complicated it is best to take expert legal advice from a UK surrogacy solicitor so you know what legal steps you will have to take to be legally recognised as the parent of a baby born via either a UK or international surrogacy arrangement.
UK Surrogacy solicitors
To speak to London based surrogacy solicitors about a UK or international surrogacy call 0203 959 9123 for a discussion about how OTS Solicitors can best help you secure a parental order or assist you with the legal and immigration complexities of an international surrogacy arrangement. Alternatively, contact us through our online enquiry form.
UK surrogacy law
Although surrogacy should be a joyous experience, the legal framework for recognition of a baby born to a surrogate mother can be frustrating and worrying for would be parents. Surrogacy solicitors provide legal support to ensure that you obtain the court order you need to be legally recognised as the baby’s parent/s.
If you use a UK surrogate mother then when the baby is born the surrogate mother is the child’s legal mother. This is legally the case whether or not the surrogate mother is biologically related to the child.
If the surrogate mother is married or in a civil partnership, then her spouse or civil partner will also be the child’s legal birth parent. The exception to this rule is if the spouse or civil partner of the surrogate did not agree to the surrogacy arrangement.
If the surrogate mother is not married, the intended father can be treated as the legal father of the child if he is the genetic father of the baby or if he is nominated as the other legal parent when the child is born.
Until a parental order is made the intended mother of a baby born through a surrogacy arrangement will not be legally classed as a parent of the child. The intended or biological father of the child may be classed as a parent of the child but this depends on the surrogate mother’s relationship status.
To become recognised as the legal parent of a child born to a UK surrogate mother and for the surrogate mother (and her spouse/ civil partner) to lose her/their legal status as the child’s parent/s you will need to apply for a parental order.
A parental order cannot be applied for until after the baby is born. The period between the baby’s birth and the making of the parental order can lead to anxiety as although the baby is being cared for by you there is the legal paperwork to sort out to make it official and watertight. Surrogacy solicitors understand that delay in securing a parental order creates immense worry for parents and recognise the importance of submitting parental order applications quickly to help give peace of mind.
Applying for a parental order
A parental order must be applied for within six months of the baby’s birth, although in most UK surrogacy solicitor’s experience the application is made shortly after the child’s birth.
You can apply for a parental order as an individual or as a couple but to meet the legal criteria the sole applicant or at least one applicant in a couple application must be genetically or biologically linked to the child. To apply as a couple you must be either married, in a civil partnership, or living as partners.
Surrogacy payments and parental orders
UK surrogacy law says that no payment should be made to the surrogate mother save for necessary reasonable expenses. If you are in any doubt about what amounts to reasonable expenses you should take advice. On an application for a parental order the court can give retrospective approval to payments made in addition to reasonable expenses but you then face an extra hurdle of having to seek retrospective approval.
Additional criteria for a parental order
In order to apply for a parental order you must also:
Have the baby living with you; and
Reside permanently in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man; and
You must apply for the parental order within six months of the baby’s birth.
These additional requirements can make an application for a parental order after an international surrogacy complicated. That is why it is sensible to take legal advice on your best options to secure a parental order prior to committing to a surrogacy arrangement.
Consent to a parental order
The surrogate mother and anyone else who is legally defined as a parent of the baby has to be sent a copy of the application for a parental order. They will need to complete a form saying if they agree to the making of a parental order.
Length of a parental order
A parental order lasts for the lifetime of the applicant/s and child. That means that it is akin to an adoption order as it creates a legal relationship for the rest of your lives. Once a parental order is made you should have complete peace of mind about your legal status as the parent/s of the baby.
OTS Solicitors specialise in international surrogacy because of their combined family and immigration law expertise. If you have not yet reached a decision on whether to pursue UK surrogacy or international surrogacy we can talk you through your options , let you know what you might expect to encounter in the surrogacy process and help you work out the best option for you.
OTS Solicitors find that if intended parents know about the pros and cons of UK and international surrogacy they not only know what to expect but find the process less stressful and easier to cope with the legal and immigration complexities and the limbo period between the baby’s arrival and either the making of a UK parental order or the baby securing UK entry clearance.
If you decide that international surrogacy is your preferred route to parenthood it is important to appreciate that the country your surrogate mother is a national of, the relationship status of the surrogate mother and the nationality of the biological father may all have a bearing on whether the child is born a British national and the baby’s immigration route into the UK and eligibility for a British passport. These complexities should not deter you from international surrogacy but it is best to understand what steps you will have to take after the birth of the baby to both reunite the family in the UK and secure your legal status as the parent/s of the child.