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Surrogacy and donor FAQs

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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