Our team are specialists with vast experience in all areas of family law. If you are a couple and you would like to explore surrogacy or assisted reproduction, we can advise you on the various options:

  • Legal advice for surrogacy planning
  • Parental orders
  • Surrogacy disputes
  • Fertility law relating to alternative assisted reproduction methods.

If you are considering having a child through surrogacy, whether abroad or domestically, specialist legal advice is essential. The legal issues surrounding surrogacy are complicated and will require careful navigation to ensure a seamless process, from arranging the surrogacy to taking your new baby home.

Surrogacy can involve the following:

  • Traditional surrogacy involves the insemination of a surrogate mother, using her own eggs.
  • Gestational surrogacy involves a surrogate mother carrying a child conceived using another’s eggs, whether that would be an egg donor or the intended mother.
  • Either arrangement is legal in English law.

Is it legal?

Commercial surrogacy is not legal. This means that it is illegal to pay someone to be a surrogate for you and a surrogate mother cannot offer to carry a baby for commercial means.

What is the legal status of the parents?

  • The surrogate will be the legal mother of the child at birth.
  • The intended mother will have no status as a parent, regardless of biology.
  • If the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership and her husband or civil partner has consented to the surrogacy arrangement, her husband or civil partner will be the legal father or second legal parent at birth.
  • The intended father will only be the legal father of the child if:
    • He is the biological father; and
    • The surrogate mother is single or their husband or partner did not consent.
  • It is not currently possible for a single person to become a legal parent through surrogacy.

How to acquire legal parenthood?

An application to court for a parental order is necessary in order to ensure that the intended parents replace the surrogate (and her husband or civil partner) as the legal parents.

Who should be named on the birth certificate?

Only the legal parent(s) can be named on the child’s birth certificate. If the intended father is the biological father, he must attend the birth registration in person, along with the surrogate mother, in order to ensure that he is named on the birth certificate.

The birth certificate can later be reissued with the then legal parents’ details.

How to obtain a parental order?

A parental order is an order of the court which will transfer parenthood from the surrogate parent (and her husband/civil partner, where applicable) to the intended legal parents. It extinguishes all links between the child and the surrogate mother. It gives full parental status (and parental responsibility) to the intended legal parents. A parental order is essential in all surrogacy cases. Once the order is made, a new birth certificate will be issued with details of the child’s new legal parents.

In order to obtain a parental order, the following criteria need to be made out:

  • Both intended parents be over 18 and married, civil partners or in an enduring family relationship
  • At least one must be a biological parent of the child
  • At least one must be domiciled in a part of the UK (including the Channel Islands or Isle of Man)
  • The conception must have been artificial.
  • The child’s home must be with the intended parents at the time of the application.
  • The surrogate mother, and her husband or civil partner where applicable, must consent to the making of the order. This cannot be done validly within the first 6 weeks of birth. Consent can only be given after 6 weeks of the birth.
  • There must have been no payments made between the parties except for reasonable expenses. (Determining what will be interpreted as a reasonable expense is dealt with on a case by case basis, but careful thought should be applied to this at all times.
  • The application must be made within six months of the child’s birth.


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