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Family disputes
Donor conception/ co-parenting
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Surrogacy for mum-dad parents

There are different types of surrogacy for mum-dad intended parents: Gestational surrogacy - If you have embryos in storage or are able to create embryos through IVF treatment (either using your own gametes or donated eggs or sperm), they can be transferred to a surrogate, who then carries a child she is not biologically related to. Traditional surrogacy – Your surrogate donates her egg to you as well as carrying your child. She might conceive through IVF treatment or artificial insemina...

Surrogacy for gay dads

UK law supports gay dads conceiving through surrogacy in the same way as it does straight couples.  It is against the law for anyone to discriminate against you on the basis of your sexual orientation. There are different types of surrogacy: Gestational surrogacy – You create embryos with eggs from a donor and sperm from one of you, which are then transferred to your surrogate (who is therefore not the biological mother). Many UK fertility clinics offer egg donation treatment and ca...

Surrogacy for single dads

English law does not prohibit single dads having children through surrogacy (and we work with many who do it), but there is no legal framework. This can make things difficult because: There is no straightforward way of sorting out the UK legalities to extinguish the surrogate’s responsibilities and secure sole parenthood. It is harder to find a surrogate in the UK. If you are conceiving with a surrogate in the UK or abroad, it is critical to ensure that you will be your child&rs...

Surrogacy for single mums

UK law does not prohibit single mums from having children through surrogacy, but in practice legal complications make it difficult. The surrogate, rather than you, will be the legal mother of your child (even if you are the biological mother and even if you are named as the mother on a foreign birth certificate). Find out more about UK legal parenthood. If your child is born outside the UK, securing British nationality and the documentation you will need to travel home could be...

Surrogacy for UK professionals

There are a range of UK professionals who get involved in surrogacy arrangements, including surrogacy agencies, fertility clinics, medical professionals, social workers and CAFCASS. Surrogacy agencies Only non profit-making organisations are allowed to provide surrogacy matching services in the UK, and there are some detailed rules and restrictions. Find out more about the UK legal framework for surrogacy. Fertility clinic professionals If conception takes place at a UK fertility clinic,...

Surrogacy for surrogates and their families

It is legal to be a surrogate in the UK.  The only aspects of surrogacy which are illegal are advertising (you cannot advertise that you are willing to be a surrogate) and commercial brokering (only non-profit organisations can match surrogates with intended parents in the UK).   Find out more about the UK framework for surrogacy. It is not illegal to receive payments for surrogacy in the UK (this is a common misconception) although if you are paid more than reasonable expenses t...

The framework for surrogacy in the UK

Surrogacy is legal in the UK, but there are some restrictions. Surrogacy brokering services The Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 makes it illegal for third parties (except non profit-making organisations) to match parents and surrogates in the UK. Non-profit agencies can match (subject to some complicated restrictions). There is no licensing or regulation of UK agencies. Surrogacy matching services have historically been offered in the UK through COTS and Surrogacy UK, organisations run by...

Surrogacy agreements under UK law

Although it is legal to enter into a surrogacy agreement in the UK, any surrogacy contract is unenforceable.  This means that everyone relies on each other to honour the agreement, both in respect of handing over the child and in respect of expenses and any other issues. Many intended parents worry about what would happen if their surrogate wanted to keep the baby; equally, many surrogates worry about what would happen if the intended parents did not assume responsibility after the birth.&...

Payments for surrogacy

It is a common misconception that it is illegal for UK parents to pay a surrogate more than expenses. This is wrong; there is no such offence in UK law. The issue of payments is simply a consideration for the family court if a parental order application is made after the birth. The law says that the court can only make a parental order (making the intended parents the legal parents) if it is satisfied that no more than reasonable expenses been paid, or if the court agrees to authorise any payme...

UK fertility clinics and surrogacy

Fertility treatment for surrogacy which takes place in the UK is regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.  The HFEA Code of Practice sets out the obligations of UK fertility clinics. Legal parenthood Fertility clinics have to give patients information about who the legal parents will be and who will have parental responsibility following conception at a UK fertility clinic.  In 2013, we advised the HFEA and helped them to update their guidance.  It is now cl...

Surrogacy disputes: between parents and surrogates

Those considering surrogacy often worry about surrogacy agreements not being binding, and fear what might happen if the surrogate did not hand over the baby at birth (equally many surrogates fear that the intended parents will not assume responsibility for their child). In fact, serious disputes of this kind between parents and surrogates are rare. There have been only two UK reported cases dealing with UK surrogacy arrangements in which the surrogate has not handed the baby over at birth. Each...

Parents who separate after or during surrogacy

Parents who have obtained a UK parental order will be recognised as joint legal parents of their child by UK law and will share parental responsibility. If they separate, they should be treated in exactly the same way as any other natural or adoptive parents. In the case of G v G (2011) a father through surrogacy (who wished to enhance his own position in a separation) attempted to have a parental order overturned on the basis of procedural irregularities and the fact that his wife had dec...

Wills and life insurance for surrogacy

It is important to protect everyone involved in a surrogacy arrangement against the risk of one of the adults involved dying unexpectedly.  Most intended parents pay for life insurance for their surrogate, to make sure that her family is financially protected if anything happens to her as a result of the pregnancy. All those involved in a surrogacy arrangement should also make or update their wills well in advance of the birth. The intended parents should: Provide for the payment of ex...

Surrogacy: legal issues at maternity hospitals and with midwives

Surrogacy births are increasingly common in the UK, and require sensitive handling to ensure that everyone's interests are cared for. Policies for managing surrogate births Brilliant Beginnings is currently working on a model surrogacy policy for maternity hospitals as part of its campaigning work. The policy sets out that maternity hospitals and midwives dealing with surrogate pregnancies should consider: How to ensure that all those involved (the surrogate, her partner and the inten...

NGA publication: A guide to surrogacy for gay men (We Are Family, Winter 2013)

Natalie wrote a feature for We Are Family magazine (winter 2013) celebrating the launch of Brilliant Beginnings and talking about the legal issues for gay men conceiving through surrogacy in the UK and abroad.

NGA publication: The HFEA gets into gear on surrogacy (Bionews, Oct 2013)

The HFEA updated its Code of Practice guidance on surrogacy in October 2013 (following advice from NGA). Our article, published in Bionews in May 2013, explains the changes.

NGA publication: Surrogacy needs a sensible national and international framework (International Family Law, Sept 2012)

In response to the announcement that the Hague Conference was looking into whether to regulate international surrogacy, Natalie wrote a piece for International Family Law (published in September 2012) urging the Hague to understand the practical realities of surrogacy.

NGA publication: Your surrogate will end up keeping the baby, won't she? (INUK, Winter 2011)

Many people think that surrogacy arrangements often break down, with the surrogate keeping the baby. Natalie’s article, published in charity Infertility Network UK’s magazine for fertility patients dispels the myth and explains how UK law really works

NGA publication: Surrogacy, parenthood and disputes (Bionews, Feb 2011)

Re TT (a minor) was the first disputed surrogacy case published in the UK in which a surrogate mother kept the baby. This article, published in Bionews in February 2011, discusses the case and its implications.

NGA publication: Modern surrogacy in the UK (The Review, Sept 2009)

Our article, published in The Review (journal for family solicitors) in September 2009 gives an overview of how surrogacy works in the UK in law and in practice

NGA publication: The minefield of surrogacy law (INUK, Autumn 2008)

This article for the Infertility Network UK magazine (published autumn 2008) explains to fertility patients how surrogacy law works, and the difficulties for parents.

NGA publication: Children of our time - surrogacy law in the UK (Family Law Journal, Nov 2008)

UK fertility law was updated in 2008, but only minor changes were made to surrogacy law. Natalie's article, published in Family Law Journal in November 2008, argues that the government missed an opportunity to make UK surrogacy law fit for the 21st century.

Court form - C51 (parental order application form)

This is the court form you will need to complete and send to the family court if you wish to apply for a parental order

Court form - C52 (parental order acknowledgement form)

This is the court form which is completed and signed by a surrogate (and her spouse) to confirm that they have been sent a copy of the parental order application

Resource – CAFCASS guidance for parental order reporters

This guidance published by the Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service is the reference point for parental order reporters.

NGA publication: Stonewall Gay Dads Guide

Gay rights charity Stonewall has produced a guide for gay dads starting a family. We were proud to help write the sections on surrogacy and co-parenting.

UK court decision: JP v LP (2014) - parents through surrogacy separated, court could not alter parenthood

A mother and father through surrogacy separated shortly after the birth and missed the deadline to apply for a parental order. The court was unable to resolve their legal status, leaving the child a ward of the court and leaving the surrogate as the legal mother.

UK court decision: Re TT (2011) - UK surrogacy, residence dispute, care awarded to surrogacy who kept the baby

A UK traditional surrogate mother changed her mind and decided to keep the baby. The intended parents applied to the family court for a residence order (an order that the child should live with them) which the court refused. In this case, the court decided that the child should stay with the birth mother, who offered the best care.

UK court decision: Re N (2007) also reported as Re P (2007) - residence dispute, parents given care after surrogate kept the baby

A UK traditional surrogate mother feigned a miscarriage, and the intended parents, who discovered she had given birth to a little boy, applied to the family court for a residence order (an order that the boy should live with them). The court transferred care to the intended parents, because this was deemed to be in the child's best interests in this case.

Resources: HFEA Code of Practice guidance on surrogacy

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s Code of Practice gives guidance to fertility clinics on surrogacy, setting out how UK clinics should deal with surrogacy cases, and explaining the procedures and options for allocating legal parenthood

Resources: Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985

The Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 creates the offences of surrogacy brokering and advertising. It also sets out that surrogacy agreements are unenforceable under UK law.