Legal advice on surrogacy
Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries a child on behalf of someone else. There are two different types of surrogacy:
Full surrogacy – in which the embryo is created by either:
- the sperm and eggs of the intended parents
- sperm from the intended father and a donor egg
- donor eggs and donor sperm.
Partial surrogacy – in which an egg from the surrogate mother is fertilised by sperm from the intended father.
Surrogacy is a complex area of law. The woman who gives birth to the child is always treated as the legal mother, regardless of whether or not she is genetically related to the child, until parentage has been legally transferred after the birth. A woman will not be regarded as the mother through egg donation alone.
Surrogacy arrangements are not legally enforceable in the UK, so the surrogate mother has the right to change her mind and keep the child, even if a contract has been signed and expenses have been paid to her.
After the child has been born, parentage can be transferred to the intended parents through one of the following methods:
- Parental Orders – this transfers the rights and obligations of parentage to the intended parents. At least one of them must be the egg or sperm provider, and they must be married, civil partners or living together as a couple.
- Adoption – if neither of the intended parents are genetically related to the child then they can apply for parental responsibility through adoption. However a registered adoption agency must have been involved in the surrogacy process, so it is vital to get legal advice at the outset.
Surrogacy law differs from country to country. If you are considering entering into a surrogacy arrangement abroad there are additional factors to take into account, including:
- Local parental responsibility laws
- Ethical issues, such as how surrogates are recruited and compensated
- Visas for the child to enter the UK.
It is particularly important to take legal advice before entering into an overseas surrogacy arrangement.
How Nelsons can help with surrogacy law
Surrogacy is a complex and emotional process. Nelsons has a team of specialists who can advise you on the full range of legal issues, including discussing the options available to you and the issues you are likely to encounter. We can also draft agreements to regulate surrogacy arrangements and help protect you in the future.