What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is the process by which an arrangement is made with a carrying mother that she will hand over the child she gives birth to immediately after the birth and relinquish her parental status.
Is surrogacy legal in the UK?
Surrogacy arrangements are legal in the UK, although the law bars arrangements being brokered on a commercial basis and makes it an offence to advertise for a surrogate. The close regulation of surrogacy in the UK can make travelling abroad seem attractive. However, it is important for gay couples to be aware that, whether they conceive at home or abroad, English law on parenthood applies. International surrogacy arrangements can be legally complex and should not be entered into without careful legal advice.
According to the law, the surrogate mother is always treated as the legal mother of a child at birth. If the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership, her spouse/civil partner is treated as the child’s second parent, and this excludes the intended father from having any legal status at birth. If the surrogate is not married or in a civil partnership (at the time of conception), the biological father will usually be treated as the child’s legal father.
Applying for a Parental Order
Couples who enter into a surrogacy arrangement may apply to the court within six months of their child’s birth for a ‘parental order’ in order to acquire parenthood. Parental orders are designed specifically for surrogacy situations and have the effect of extinguishing the status of the surrogate mother (and her spouse/civil partner) and conferring full parental status instead on the applicants. Following the grant of a parental order, the child will be issued with a new birth certificate naming the applicants as the child’s parents.
The law changed on 6 April 2010 meaning that gay couples and unmarried couples are eligible to apply. Gay couples will be able to apply whether or not they are married or civil partners, but they must be in a relationship; single people remain ineligible.
Surrogacy arrangements are legally complex, and the courts consistently recommend that anyone considering embarking on surrogacy obtains specialist legal advice at the outset.
For more information please contact Stonewall Cymru's Information Service on 08000 502020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org