Is surrogacy legal in the UK?
There is no international harmonization of surrogacy law and each jurisdiction takes its own approach.
Surrogacy is legal in the UK. However, there are various legal restrictions. For example, it is illegal to advertise for a surrogate in the UK.
Are surrogacy agreements legally binding?
Surrogacy agreements are not legally binding in the UK. This means a written agreement cannot compel a surrogate to hand over a surrogate baby under English law. Surrogacy agreements are therefore informal and based on trust.
What happens if the surrogate refuses to hand over the baby?
In the event of a dispute, court proceedings in the English Family Court will be required. The Court will determine matters in the best interests of the surrogate born child and can make a range of family orders.
There have been a small number of surrogacy dispute cases in the UK and the court has awarded care of the child on a fact specific basis to either a surrogate or the intended parents.
How do I find a surrogate?
In the absence of a friend or family member offering to be a surrogate, intended parents can make contact with prospective surrogates through a not-for-profit surrogacy organisation in the UK.
Alternatively, some intended parents go overseas to enter into a commercial surrogacy arrangement.
What is a parental order?
A parental order is the bespoke legal solution for surrogacy in the UK. It confers full legal parental status on intended parents and extinguishes all legal status of surrogate parents for the child.
Intended parents must meet the relevant legal criteria for a parental order under s54 or s54A of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008.
Pursuant to The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 2008 (Remedial) Order 2018 which came into force on 3 January 2019, single intended parents are now eligible to apply for a parental order. (Single parents with existing surrogate born children have until 2 July 2019 to make an application for a parental order, regardless of the age of their children).
Do I need legal advice?
Surrogacy law is complex, making it advisable to obtain specialist legal advice, including:
- To check eligibility and understanding about a parental order for a surrogate born child and the associated legal issues and process.
- To understand legal issues, options and outcomes in the event of a dispute with a surrogate about a child.
- To understand the application of surrogacy law in the UK if intended parents are relocating to the UK with a surrogate child born overseas.
- Assistance and legal representation in complex legal proceedings in the English Family Court concerning a surrogate born child (e.g. international conflict of law, surrogacy dispute, novel legal issues or difficulties, issues around payments).