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Surrogacy Law

Becoming a legal parent

What is involved?

Surrogacy is very restricted in the UK. It is illegal for a surrogate to be paid. It is illegal to advertise that you are seeking a surrogate, or to advertise your services as a surrogate. Only ‘not-for-profit’ surrogacy is permitted.

When having a child through surrogacy, you need to take steps to ensure that you have the two separate sets of legal rights and responsibilities that mean that you can do everything you need to do for your child. The first if known as legal parenthood, and affects things like the child’s inheritance rights, their nationality and who is responsible for the child financially. The second is known as parental responsibility, and includes the right to be involved in making choices about a child’s education, healthcare and day to day decisions about their upbringing.

Click here to download our print-out guide to Surrogacy Arrangements.

Why choose Freeths?

  • We are ranked in the top tier by both the Legal 500 and Chambers for family law advice
  • Our nationally renowned family lawyers can advise on all issues relating to surrogacy law
  • We develop innovative solutions to difficult problems, carefully tailored to your individual needs
  • You can trust our team to take a sensitive, empathetic approach to your personal situation
  • We offer specialist expertise and up-to-date advice about this complex area of family law

Call our friendly, professional family team to find out how we can help you resolve your issue.

It is crucial to realise that, as the child’s birth mother, the surrogate remains the legal parent until the intended parents obtain a court order, known as a parental order.

If the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership, then in most circumstances her spouse or civil partner will be the child’s second legal parent until the parental order is in place.

The parental order gives legal parenthood and parental responsibility to the intended parents, and permanently ends the legal parenthood of the surrogate and her spouse or civil partner. The intended parents have to make their application for a parental order within six months of the child’s birth – it is essential not to miss this deadline. They also have to meet a number of other, quite strict requirements relating to things like the consent of the surrogate, being domiciled in the UK and being biologically related to the child.

Because it is illegal to pay a surrogate in the UK, many couples enter into surrogacy arrangements abroad, in countries where commercial surrogacy is allowed. This can have complex implications for the child’s nationality and immigration status.

Often, the intended parents will enter into a formal surrogacy agreement with the surrogate. However, these are not binding or enforceable in the UK. The courts will usually be sympathetic to parents who argue that a surrogacy agreement should be upheld, but they can ignore it if they think it is in the best interests of the child to do so.

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