Gamble & Ghevaert

Posts Tagged ‘Natalie Gamble’

Richard published in The Review on same sex marriage

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Hot on the heels of the government announcing last week that the first same sex marriage ceremonies in England and Wales will take place from 29 March 2014, The Review (journal published by Resolution, the association of UK family lawyers) has published an article written by Richard about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 .

Richard’s article focuses on the new law and what it will mean for lawyers and same sex couples from a practical and legal perspective. The article explains what the Act actually does, including where the ceremonies can take place and in the event of a separation, the grounds for divorce. Richard also looks at the bigger picture, reflecting on the existing laws for divorce in England and Wales and the need for a (long overdue)  review by the Government. Richard’s article can be read here and you can get in touch at Richard@nataliegambleassociates.com if you have any questions. For more information about our services for relationship breakdown and family disputes please see more here.

Natalie’s article published in Family Law journal – lesbian parents and sperm donors

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Family Law (a leading monthly journal for UK family lawyers) has published an article by Natalie which discusses the landmark decision in same sex parenting case Re G and Re Z (2013) from earlier this year.  You can read the article in full here.

The case  involved a lesbian couple (represented by the NGA team) who had conceived a son through an arrangement with a known donor.  As civil partners, the two mothers benefited from the legal protection given by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 – they were the legal parents of the little boy, and named on his birth certificate.  The genetic father applied to the court for ‘leave’ to make an application for contact rights, and the court had to decide whether – as a legal sperm donor – he should be allowed to apply against the wishes of the legal parents.

The decision, published back in February, caused a storm at the time, covered by the main front page headline of the Daily Mail, as well as press statements from the HFEA and the British Fertility Society.  Natalie’s article reflects on the significance of the decision and looks at why fertility law cases are causing such a challenge for the family courts.

You can read more about known donor disputes on our website, or find out more about our family disputes services.

NGA’s autumn of public speaking

Friday, December 6th, 2013

It has been a busy few months for our whole team speaking at events and seminars across the UK and abroad.

AAARTA (the American Academy of Assisted Reproduction Attorneys) hosted a conference on assisted reproduction law in Charleston, USA on 10-12 November, bringing together 270 leading assisted reproduction lawyers from across the world, as well as representatives from the Hague Conference.  Natalie was invited to speak about LGB Family Formation in the UK, and was delighted to see so many of the overseas professionals we have worked with over many years, particularly in our international surrogacy work.

Richard ran a training session for a Diversity Group at a major London bank in October, about gay and lesbian parenting.  He talked in particular about his work with same sex couples whose relationships are breaking down, and the difficult issues which can arise, something which is an increasing part of our day to day work.

The Fertility Show was a big event at Olympia in November as part of National Infertility Awareness Week, and Natalie spoke about the issues for lesbian couples and for solo mothers starting a family.  As always, it was great to see so many alternative families in the planning, and a reminder of how much easier things are now than a decade ago.

And this week BLAGG (the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group) hosted a seminar in London on Surrogacy for Same Sex Couples, inviting barristers, doctors and Parliamentarians.  Natalie, Helen and Richard were asked to give a joint talk about our leading experience on surrogacy law, disputes which can arise and our work through Brilliant Beginnings, alongside Samantha King and Hassan Khan of 4 Paper Buildings and Professor Susan Bewley.  It was great to have the opportunity to speak to so many influencers about the problems same sex parents experience, and why the law needs to be improved.

We will continue to do what we can to educate, raise awareness and champion the interests of all those we represent.  If  you would like to know more about opportunities to hear us speak, do follow us on twitter.com/NGambleAssoc

UK parents expecting four ‘twiblings’ through surrogacy in India

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

The BBC has reported a surrogacy case (‘The couple having four babies through two surrogates’) involving a British couple who are anticipating the birth of four babies through surrogacy - two sets of twins being carried simultaneously by two Indian surrogate mothers.  Natalie was interviewed for the piece, by Poonam Taneja, and comments on our experience on the ground and what these arrangements are being called:

“Lawyer Natalie Gamble confirms there are similar cases but she believes it is a trend which is largely unique to the sub-continent. “We’ve seen it a few times. I wouldn’t say it’s routine but it’s not massively uncommon in India,” she says. In fact there is even a new term coined for these babies – twiblings. “They’re not quite twins and not quite siblings either,” she says.

It is indeed not the first time we have seen twiblings result from surrogacy in India - the use of more than one surrogate at the same time is an option presented to many of our clients going to India.  Embryos are created (either using the couple’s own gametes, or with the help of a donor) and then transferred into several surrogate mothers at the same time with a view to maximising the chance of a successful pregnancy.  If both surrogates get pregnant, the babies may be born at slightly different times, even though they were conceived as twins.

We understand that parents who have had long and difficult journeys are desperate to achieve a pregnancy, and that many do think through carefully the consequences of having many children at once.  But where multiple embryos are transferred, there can be significant risks involved for the parents, the babies and the surrogate mothers, and those involved may not be given enough information about the risks before they make a decision about how to proceed.  Indian surrogate twiblings is the product of an unregulated system and a world away from the strictly controlled fertility treatment which takes place under HFEA regulation in the UK, where there are strict controls on how many embryos can be transferred in order to avoid multiple pregnancies, and rigorous measures in place to make sure everyone involved gets the right information and gives full informed consent.  It is something parents should bear in mind before they embark on surrogacy in India.

There is more information on our website about international surrogacy law and immigration.

Natalie writes for Infertility Network UK magazine: Sperm donors given rights of contact – surely not?

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Natalie writes a regular article for the magazine published for UK fertility patients by leading charity Infertility Network UK.  Natalie’s article this quarter discusses sperm donation and the legal rights donors have if they want contact with their genetic offspring.  Read: Sperm donors given rights of contact – surely not?

Infertility Network UK is the UK’s leading national infertility charity, dedicated to supporting everyone affected by infertility and leaders of the National Infertility Awareness Campaign for fair and equitable access to NHS funding for fertility treatment.  You can find out more about the wonderful work I N UK does at http://www.infertilitynetworkuk.com/ or come and meet them at the Fertility Show, taking place as part of National Infertility Awareness Week 28 October to 3 November.

If you want to know more about lesbian parenting or sperm donation law, there is more information on our website.

Natalie speaks at the Modern Families conference in Jersey

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Natalie was delighted to be invited to speak at the Modern Families conference in St Helier, Jersey on Friday 4 October.  A gathering of leading lawyers, practitioners and academics, the conference (organised by the Association of Lawyers for Children and Hanson Renouf advocates, and chaired by His Honour Judge Bellamy) addressed the challenges facing modern families throughout the UK.

The keynote speaker was Mrs Justice Theis, the High Court judge who many of our clients know as the court’s main international surrogacy judge.  Theis J recounted the revolution of judicial thinking on same sex parenting since the 1970s, and talked about the court’s current experience of international surrogacy.  She warned of the ‘ticking time bomb’ of future legal problems for parents who have had a child through surrogacy but not resolved the UK legalities properly.

The one day conference covered a broad range of topics including same sex parenting, surrogacy, adoption and fostering, with speakers from a legal, academic, medical and social work background.  Natalie spoke on the subject of ’IVF, surrogacy and donor parenting’, describing what we see happening on the ground with our fertility law work, including divorces involving children conceived through assisted reproduction, same sex parenting disputes and surrogacy.  Natalie spoke out about how UK surrogacy law is currently failing parents, surrogates and children, and desperately needs to be reviewed and updated.

For more information about our work, see our website www.nataliegambleassociates.com.

 

 

Natalie speaks at leading conference, with Supreme Court Justice Baroness Hale

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Natalie was delighted to speak alongside Baroness Hale at a conference in London on 20-21 June of leading UK and international experts in donor conception and alternative reproduction.

Baroness Hale of Richmond (first woman Justice of the Supreme Court, and former chair of the committee which drafted the very first HFEA Code of Practice in 1990) gave the conference opening address, speaking about the law for ‘new families’ and how the family courts have sought to uphold the welfare of the child in a range of cases involving donor conception, lesbian parenting and surrogacy.

Natalie, invited to give the response to Lady Hale’s address, shared her practical perspective of the issues affecting non-traditional families on the ground, and spoke about her personal experience.  She talked about the deficiencies of current UK law on surrogacy, and how important the new legal rights are for same sex parents.  She discussed how complex and divisive known donor disputes can be, and how in practice unequal biological or legal parentage between separating parents can raise temperatures significantly.  But she also noted that many parents conceiving in non-traditional ways do so with enormous care and planning, and stressed that the success stories should be remembered as well as the difficult cases which come to court.

The other conference speakers included leading academics from Manchester and Cambridge University, experienced practitioners at fertility clinics, experts in bioethics and international lawyers.  Professor Carol Smart and Dr Petra Nordqvist from the Morgan Centre, who hosted the conference, presented the results of their fascinating research project on donor conception, which has explored the responses of parents and grandparents in different family forms to having a child in their family conceived with the help of a donor.

You can read Natalie’s response to Baroness Hale here, or find out more about our campaigning work.  You can also find out more about the Morgan Centre’s research: Relative strangers – a key new study of information sharing and senses of connectedness in donor conceived families.

High Court judge warns ‘loud and clear’: international surrogacy parents need a UK court order

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

In a High Court ruling published today (a case in which we represented the parents), Mrs Justice Theis has warned parents of children born through international surrogacy that they must apply to court in the UK if they want to be the legal parents of their children.

She said: “The legal relationship between children born as a result of surrogacy arrangements and their intended parents is not on a secure legal footing without [a UK parental order] being made. That can have long term legal consequences for the children… The message needs to go out loud and clear to encourage parental order applications to be made in respect of children born as a result of international surrogacy agreements, and for them to be made promptly.”

Mrs Justice Theis was granting parenthood to a gay couple who had conceived twins through surrogacy in California. She said: “I am entirely satisfied the applicants have acted in good faith at all stages.” She published her decision to send a message that British parents through surrogacy need to engage with UK law. Increasing numbers are travelling to places like California where there are commercially run surrogacy agencies. In the UK, it is a criminal offence for third parties to broker surrogacy arrangements for profit – something the judge pointed out, saying it was not part of the case for her to consider the legality of the actions of the agency involved (the British Surrogacy Centre, which has an office in Essex) but she sent a copy of her judgment to the relevant UK authorities for investigation.

UK law does not recognise Californian birth certificates naming the intended parents, instead treating the surrogate and her husband as the parents. British parents need a parental order from the UK family court to become the legal parents in the UK. Without it, they have no right to make decisions as parents and may be caring for their child illegally. Their child may lack basic legal rights to inheritance, child support and British nationality. If the parents do not apply to court within six months of the birth, they lose the chance of getting a UK birth certificate forever.

In this case, the parents applied and the court made a parental order. The surrogate – in accordance with Californian law – had been paid $56,750 plus expenses for her inconvenience.  Californian surrogacy attorney Michelle Keeyes, who works with many couples from the UK, says: “In the US it is typical to pay a first time surrogate approximately $25,000-$30,000 for her time and inconvenience over the course of the pregnancy. For UK parents, it is imperative that they retain legal counsel in both the UK and the US.”

Payments for surrogacy are not illegal under UK law, but if more than ‘reasonable expenses’ is paid the court has to weigh things up carefully before making a parental order. This is not the first time the High Court has ‘authorised’ a commercial payment to a foreign surrogate, although the amount in this case was larger than in any previous case. As before, making an order was justified because it ensured the children’s lifelong security.

You can read the full judgment in the case of J v G (2013) EWHC 1432 here, or find out more from our website about international surrogacy law.

NGA at the G3 awards celebrating gay and lesbian achievement

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Natalie and Richard were at the G3 awards on Friday night, a gala evening hosted by Charlie Condou and Sophie Ward, celebrating leading figures and influencers in the LGBT world.

NGA was proud to be nominated for not just one but two of the prestigious awards – Family Provider of the Year, and Diversity Champion of the Year – at an event attended by guests including Stephen Fry, Clare Balding, Peter Tatchell and Ben Summerskill.

Here’s what G3 said about us:

Natalie Gamble Associates is known for its pioneering work pushing the boundaries of the law for same sex parents. The team has helped thousands of alternative families, including acting in the groundbreaking cases which have made UK law on donor conception and international surrogacy. NGA campaigns on behalf of alternative families, successfully defending the right for same sex parents to be named on birth certificates together back in 2008, and recently winning a long campaign to give gay dads through surrogacy equal maternity leave rights.

Find out more about our work with same sex parents or about our team, or contact us for help or advice.

Natalie on the Today Programme – who should have the rights where a surrogate baby is disabled?

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Natalie was interviewed by James Naughtie on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today Programme about surrogacy (listen again here). The programme covered a US surrogacy case which hit the news after a US surrogate mother refused to terminate her pregnancy at 21 weeks when it was discovered that the baby would be born severely disabled.

In the UK, surrogacy law gives all the rights to the woman who carries the pregnancy – she is the legal mother. Although a case like this has never happened in the UK, if it did there would be no doubt (as there was under US law) that the surrogate mother would hold all the cards. But is this the right approach?

In practice, we know on the ground that surrogacy disputes are incredibly rare. For the vast majority of cases, it would make more sense for the intended (biological) parents, rather than the surrogate, to have legal responsibilities much earlier – it’s what everyone involved wants, and the long delay transferring parenthood leaves children vulnerable for far too long. And where there are disputes, we need a more sophisticated approach to balancing the interests of all involved – surrogate, parents and child.

The real lesson of this case is that we can avoid problems like this by giving the right support at the start. Parents and surrogates need to communicate clearly, and those with radically mismatched views on termination should not proceed together. That is why it is so crazy that UK surrogacy law goes out of its way to deny those going into surrogacy arrangements the support they need. Under UK law, surrogacy contracts are unenforceable and illegal for lawyers to draft, and professional matching and brokering services are prohibited by criminal law. It’s time for that to change.

There is more information about surrogacy law and our campaigning work on our website.