Concept for - Surrogacy and Parental Orders

Carrying on with our recent series of articles around parental responsibility. My article below concerns surrogacy and the Parental Order process. A good starting point is to explain what surrogacy is.

What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is an arrangement when a woman (the ‘surrogate’) carries a child for another person or couple (the ‘intended parent/s’) intending that the child will be raised by the intended parent/s.

The surrogate may use her own eggs and therefore be the genetic mother, which is known as ’traditional surrogacy’ or the pregnancy may be achieved via a fertility clinic and donor eggs may be used, known as ‘gestational surrogacy’.

Domestic surrogacy arrangements are where all aspects of conception and birth take place within the UK. International surrogacy arrangements are where conception and/or birth take place overseas.

Parental Order

  • If you have a child through surrogacy, you as the intended parent/s will need to apply to the court for a Parental Order. This transfers legal parenthood from the surrogate (and her spouse or civil partner if she has one) to you.
  • This is an important process because without a Parental Order you and/or your partner may not be considered your child’s legal parent in the UK. This means that you will not have parental responsibility and therefore you may:
    • not have the authority to make decisions about your child’s education and medical care;
    • face legal complications should you and your partner separate or divorce; and
    • need to find and involve the surrogate in future decisions involving your child.

A Parental Order gives you full legal parenthood and parental responsibility in much the same way as adoption, but it is usually a much simpler process.

The Parental Order process

The Court will instruct an organisation called CAFCASS to appoint a Parental Order Reporter to help it make a decision on the Parental Order application. Parental Order Reporters are qualified social workers who represent the interests of children involved in family courts.

The Parental Order Reporter will usually arrange to meet with you, see you with your child, and ensure that the surrogate freely consents to the application. They may make further enquiries if they consider it necessary to do so. This work typically takes between eight to twelve weeks.

The Parental Order Reporter will then provide a ‘Parental Order Report’ before the final hearing which will recommend whether a Parental Order should be made.

If you would like to discuss surrogacy or the Parental Order process, please contact our Family team who will be happy to help.

This article is part of a series on Parental Responsibility. If you would like to learn more about Parental Responsibility, please click here for the full series.