Helping you with the surrogacy process

Having a child through surrogacy is a life-changing and exciting process. There are many legal implications that need to be considered. First a foremost, a surrogate will be the child’s legal parent until the legal parenthood is transferred to you after the child is born. It is therefore important to know your rights from the very outset so that you can be sure that surrogacy is right for you. In some circumstances, you may wish to enter into a surrogacy agreement in order to outline how your arrangement will work.

We can help you to understand the surrogacy process and be fully prepared while embarking on this process to ensure; the Moore Barlow team or surrogacy lawyers in London, Richmond, Southampton and Hampshire are highly experienced in these areas.

What is the process for surrogacy?

If you are considering having a child through surrogacy in England, Wales or abroad, then there are many considerations, including legal, emotional and practical arrangements that will need to be made. These are important consideration so that you can be assured the child, once born, will be legally recognised as your own child for which you have full responsibility under the law.

There are many steps to surrogacy, and you can benefit from having expert legal advice along the way, which is where our surrogacy lawyers can help. In brief, the framework for surrogacy usually includes the following stages:

  • Decide where you want to commission the surrogacy arrangement and consider any immigration issues
  • Decide on whether you wish to work with a surrogacy organisation and which one
  • Decide on a surrogate and what type of surrogacy i.e. is any donated egg/sperm required
  • Prepare a surrogacy agreement and complete all the necessary forms of consent
  • Conception of the child and the following maternity
  • The birth of the child and migration if surrogacy commissioned abroad
  • The transfer of legal parenthood by way of a parental order

What is a surrogacy agreement?

A surrogacy agreement can be an extremely useful document to clearly set out everyone’s intentions before, during and after embarking on this process together. An agreement can clarify what role the surrogate will have and what rights and responsibilities the intended parents will have. A surrogacy agreement can outline all potential outcomes and eventualities to ensure everyone is entering into the arrangement with a full understanding of what to expect to avoid any issues later on occurring.

It’s important to have the appropriate legal advice when developing your surrogacy agreement, which is where our experienced surrogacy solicitors in London, Richmond, Southampton and Hampshire can help. We will help you look at all the possible eventualities and make sure that the surrogacy agreement accurately reflects your intentions.

What is a parental order?

For a child born via surrogacy to be legally considered the child of the intended parents, they must apply for a parental order. There are strict criteria that must be met for a parental order to be granted. Preparing an application and providing the correct evidence is therefore essential to obtain a parental order. Taking legal advice on obtaining a parental order can ensure there are no unforeseen delays. We can help you with any legal aspects of the surrogacy process, including parental order applications so that you do not encounter any unforeseen obstacles when having a child via surrogacy.

We have offices in Southampton, London, Richmond, Guildford, Lymington and Woking and offer expert family law advice to clients nationwide. If you want to know more about the support we can offer to those planning to add to their family through surrogacy, please contact us.

Who are the child’s legal parents?

In the first instance, the child’s legal mother will always be the gestational parent who will also be named on the birth certificate. This is the mother who carries the child to birth therefore an egg donor will not be the child’s legal parent. In the first instance, the child’s legal father will be the biological father but they will only be named on the birth certificate under certain circumstances.

How do I become the child’s legal parent if I want to use a surrogate?

A parental order must be obtained. This extinguishes the legal parentage of the surrogate mother and instead the applicant assumes the status of the child’s legal parent. The child must be living with the applicant in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man and the parental order must be applied for within 6 months of the child’s birth.

Can I get a parental order if I am single?

Parental orders used to be limited to those that were married, in a civil partnership or in an enduring relationship. The laws changed in January 2019 allowing single people to also apply for a parental order.

Do I still need a parental order if I commission a surrogacy abroad?

Yes, a parental order is still necessary if you want to be recognised as the child’s parent in the UK rather than the surrogate mother regardless of the laws of the country where the surrogacy arrangement took place.

What is a surrogacy agreement?

A surrogacy agreement may be drawn up and entered into by the commissioning parents and surrogate parents before, during and even after the child is born. It sets out all the parties’ intentions and expectations and can include issues such as the making of a parental order, the financial obligations towards the child, the surrogate’s relationship with the child and how the child will be brought up.

Why should I get a surrogacy agreement?

Surrogacy agreements are not legally binding in the UK as a parental order must be freely entered into by all the parties at the time it is applied for. A surrogacy agreement is however useful to ensure that all the parties involved understand the practicalities of the surrogacy. This can help avoid any misunderstandings, oversights and disappointment when a parental order is eventually applied for. Although surrogacy agreements are not legally binding, the courts can still consider them in relation to any disagreements in the future to take into account the parties’ intentions.

If I wish to use a surrogate do I need to pay her?

Surrogates cannot be paid for commercial purposes however, a surrogate can be paid reasonable expenses which is determined on a case by case basis.

What is the difference between a known donor and an unknown donor?

The commissioning parents will not know the identity of an unknown donor unlike a known donor. In the UK an unknown donor can only be used through a UK licensed clinic. Likewise, an unknown donor will not know the identity of the mother or any child conceived but can request confirmation of the number of children born as a result of their donation, the children’s genders and the years of birth.

Can a donor conceived child find out who the donor was?

An unknown donor will remain anonymous until the child turns 16 after which they can request non-identifying information. Once a child turns 18 they can then request identifying information about the donor however, donations before 1 April 2005 were anonymous therefore any information before this date will only be available if the donors have agreed to remove their anonymity.

If I used a donor then can my partner be the child’s legal parent?

This will depend on the relationship between you and your partner and whether the donation was carried out in a UK licensed clinic. If the donation is carried out in a UK licensed clinic then the donor will not be the child’s legal parent and the mother can agree for her partner to be the other legal parent, regardless of whether they are married or in a civil partnership. If the donation takes place outside of a UK licensed clinic then the partner must be married or in a civil partnership with the mother in order to be considered the child’s legal parent.

What is a donor agreement?

A donor agreement may be drawn up and entered into by the commissioning parents and the donor before, during and even after the child is born. It sets out all the parties’ intentions and expectations and can include issues such as the financial obligations towards the child, the donor’s relationship with the child and how the child will be brought up.

Why should I get a donor agreement?

Donor agreements are not legally binding in the UK. A donor agreement is however useful to ensure that all the parties involved understand the practicalities of the arrangement. This can help avoid any misunderstandings, oversights and disappointment at a later date. Although donor agreements are not legally binding, the courts can still consider them in relation to any disagreements in the future to take into account the parties’ intentions.

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