President of the Family Division Sir James Munby has ruled that the High Court cannot recognise surrogate children of single parents.
In a recently published judgment, Sir James denied a parental order for the biological child of a British single father. The child, ‘Z’, was born to a surrogate mother in the Midwestern US state of Minnesota.
An American court subsequently ruled that the father was Z’s only parent and it relieved the surrogate of “any legal rights or responsibilities” for the child. The father then brought Z to England and has cared for him since.
English surrogacy law states that the woman who gave birth to Z is legally his mother. He applied to the High Court for a parental order which would name him the child’s sole parent and allow him to get Z a British birth certificate. His application was supported by Z’s court-appointed guardian, whose job was to represent the child’s best interests, and the American surrogate.
However, section 54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 clearly states that applications for a parental order can only be made by “two people”. Such couples must be married, in a civil partnership or “living as partners in an enduring family relationship”.
Despite the father’s support, Sir James Munby ruled that the law was very clear. He declared that the father was not eligible to apply for a parental order under the current laws.
To read the President’s judgment in full, click here.