The common pitfalls of surrogacy arrangements
Though the UK does not outlaw surrogacy, the law is incredibly complex and those wishing to enter into surrogacy arrangements are likely to face a number of hurdles. One of the main problems for those interested in surrogacy is that you are not permitted to advertise that you are seeking a surrogate or are willing to act as one. The only organisations permitted to broker an arrangement are those working on a not-for-profit basis.
Another problem is the fact that the agreements are not legally-binding. However, family courts have typically acted favourably towards parents who have entered into surrogacy agreements. They are obliged to act in the child’s best interests, which means there is no guarantee that any agreement will be upheld. It’s also essential to note that the surrogate mother may be permitted to change her mind and keep the baby. Many cases have gone to court after circumstances have changed, which is why the decision to use a surrogate is rarely taken lightly.
The law treats the surrogate mother as the legal mother, and their husband as the legal father if they are married and the baby is conceived artificially. This is why it is so common for surrogate mothers to be unmarried. The surrogate’s husband cannot be released from his status as the legal parent just by saying he did not consent to the arrangement. The situation doesn’t change when the surrogate is in a same-sex relationship. Should the surrogate mother be married to or in a civil partnership with someone of the same-sex, they will be treated as the second parent legally.
If the surrogate mother is not married or in a civil partnership at the time of conception, the intended father could be treated as the legal father. It is the surrogate mother’s responsibility to register the birth. Their partner must be named as the other parent if they are married or in a civil partnership, but the intended father can be named as the father if they are present at the registration. The intended mother or non-biological father may be given parental responsibility if a court form is signed following registration.
Parental orders can solve a number of issues after the surrogacy process. These orders are similar to adoption orders and reassign parenthood so the intended parents obtain full parental status and responsibility. Intended parents are advised to apply for a parental order whether the surrogate mother is married or not. A new birth certificate will be produced after the parental order is made and will feature the names of the intended parents.
Although the intended father can be treated as the legal father from birth if the surrogate is not married, they will not get complete recognition until the parental order is acquired. There are various criteria that need to be met if a parental order is to be granted. Money should have only changed hands for reasonable expenses unless authorisation from the court has been given. The application must be submitted within six months of the birth and the child must have been conceived artificially.
Some cases are more straightforward than others, so if you are seeking accurate, up-to-date legal advice on surrogacy, contact HS Lawyers today.