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Freeths - Law firm

Surrogacy Law

Helping intended parents to create & build their family through surrogacy

Expert surrogacy lawyers

Our team of surrogacy lawyers provide expert legal advice to help intended parents create and build their family through surrogacy. We offer a personalised service supporting families every step of the way. We specialise in both international and UK surrogacy law, from creating agreements to obtaining parental orders.

We can help you navigate the legal issues surrounding surrogacy, provide advice on the practical arrangements too as well as untangling the complexities of finances, expense payments and immigration issues.

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What is involved in the surrogacy process?

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.

Surrogacy law and parental orders

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.

Surrogacy arrangements abroad

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.

Entering into a formal surrogacy agreement

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.

If the application is made by two people they must be over 18 and either be married, in a civil partnership or in an enduring family relationship. At the time of the application and the making of the order the child’s home must be with the applicant or applicants and either or both of them must be domiciled in the United Kingdom.

From 3 January 2019 an application can also be made by one person (a single parent). For a short period of time (until 3 June 2019) this change in legislation will apply retrospectively and applications can be made in respect of a child born before January 2019 (i.e. the timing provision set out below will not apply). Otherwise, the same provisions which apply to two applicants apply in cases where there is one applicant. More information on parental orders >

Why choose our surrogacy lawyers?

  • We are ranked in the top tier by both the Legal 500 and Chambers for family law advice
  • We are a nationally renowned team of surrogacy 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 surrogacy law 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

Surrogacy law FAQs

What are the causes of a birth injury?

What is a Surrogacy Arrangement?

Surrogacy is an arrangement whereby a person (the surrogate) carries and gives birth to a baby for an individual or couple (the intended parents) with the intention that the individual or couple will be the baby’s parents following the birth.

Who will be the legal parents when the child is born?

Currently in the UK, the gestational mother who gives birth to the child is always considered to be the legal parent of the child upon birth and will be named on the birth certificate. As such, the surrogate will automatically be recognised as the legal parent to the child. This remains the case even if the surrogate is not genetically related to the child. Even if the child was conceived using your egg, your partner’s egg or a donated egg, the surrogate will still be the legal parent upon birth.

If the surrogate is not married or in a civil partnership then it may be possible for one of the intended parent(s) to be recognised as a legal parent upon the birth of the child by virtue of the agreed fatherhood or agreed second parenthood conditions. This is also applicable if it is shown that the surrogate’s spouse/partner did not consent to the surrogacy arrangement.

Whatever shape your surrogacy arrangement takes, it is important to know that when the child is born it is highly likely that at least one intended parent(s) will not be legally recognised as a parent of the child.

How can I be recognised as a legal parent to my child if I am not the
legalparent when the child is born?

You will need to make an application for a parental order. When the application is successful and a parental order is made, the intended parent(s) will be the legal parent(s) of the children and the surrogate’s status as a legal parent of the child will be discharged (alongside all of the corresponding rights and responsibilities)

What is a Parental Order

A parental order confers legal parenthood and parental responsibility on the applicants (the commissioning parents). The effect of the order is conclusive; in law, the child is for all purposes treated as the child of the applicants and not the child of the surrogate or her husband (if relevant).

As the surrogate does not have parental responsibility or any legal relationship with the child any future relationship or contact arrangements are solely at the discretion of the commissioning parents.

The main consequence of a parental order is that the child becomes a full child of the family on an irrevocable basis. As a result, there is no remaining relationship between the child and the surrogate mother and her husband (if relevant).


What our clients say about us

“I am hugely grateful for her help, support, advice and understanding throughout a very testing process. Her professionalism, knowledge and expertise was combined with a pragmatic and caring approach, and I cannot recommend her more highly.” | Chambers & Partners, 2024.

“She has a wealth of experience in family law and is extremely dependable.” | Chambers & Partners, 2024.

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Contact us today

For more information please contact one of our friendly & professional surrogacy lawyers below or contact us online today:

Contact us or request a callback >

Our webinars

The Surrogacy Series: What is Surrogacy?
Watch back the webinar here >

Sign up to our ‘Family Law’ mailing list to receive emails about our future surrogacy events

Related services

Parental orders >

Key contacts

Charlotte Coyle

0345 166 6282

Fiona Wilson

0345 030 5643

Alternatively complete the form below:

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"Thank you for all your hard work and professionalism."


"Well done and thanks a million!"


"Thank you for all your help – it’s been much appreciated."


“I am hugely grateful for her help, support, advice and understanding throughout a very testing process. Her professionalism, knowledge and expertise was combined with a pragmatic and caring approach, and I cannot recommend her more highly”

(Chambers & Partners, 2024)


“I have utmost confidence in Charlotte as I know she will respond quickly and that she is reliable in terms of looking after the client.”

(Chambers & Partners, 2024)


“Even in the most complex and stressful situations, she is the calming presence that is needed and she handles every situation formidably.”

(Chambers & Partners, 2024)

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Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

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