Today marks the close of the very first National Surrogacy week, with various organisations involved including Surrogacy UK and Brilliant Beginnings who are both non-profit surrogacy agencies.
Despite high-profile surrogacy cases including Kim Kardashian-West, Elton John, Nicole Kidman and more recently Tom Daly, it is still widely misunderstood.
For some insight into the legal complexities, we asked Sarah Jane Lenihan, Senior Solicitor at our London Victoria office to join us on the blog to look at surrogacy in more detail and explain some of the law that surrounds it.
” This is the very first surrogacy week which seems unbelievable when we have already celebrated national chocolate, pizza, bagel and butterscotch day.
Surrogacy is not widely discussed in the UK and I would suggest is a taboo topic of conversation in society. This lack of information means that surrogacy is often misunderstood.
The purpose of National Surrogacy week is to celebrate surrogacy, to raise awareness and to recognise some of the amazing work surrogacy related professions undertake in the UK.
I can say first hand that the word amazing does not do justice to what the professionals in this area do. I recently attended a conference and the speakers brought the room to tears. To hear from some of the charities that support people throughout surrogacy and beyond to the work the clinics undertake was incredibly moving.
While surrogacy law in the UK has progressed a lot it still is, I think, old-fashioned and has some way to go before it catches up with society.
Surrogacy: know your rights
In law, the woman who gives birth to the child continues to be the legal mother even IF they are not genetically related and therefore has the right to keep the child.
Once the surrogate mother has provided her formal consent, the intended parents can make a court application for a Parental Order.
Without a parental or adoption order in place, the legal father may be the surrogate’s husband or civil partner. However, this is not the case if he refused consent of the treatment at the time.
Or if the surrogate is single, unmarried and not in a civil partnership the child will have no legal father/second parent unless a partner actively consents
It is illegal to pay a surrogate in the UK (save for their reasonable expenses).
How can we help?
These laws can potentially leave both parties in a vulnerable and complicated position. However, if you seek legal advice early you can ensure that you fully understand the process, are prepared and obtain /submit the right documentation. Sadly, I have seen cases where parties have not taken advice or obtained the right paperwork and this has created a stressful situation due to misunderstandings of the legal position.
Let’s hope that the first National Surrogacy week will start to bring about reform and support people where surrogacy is the only solution to childlessness.
Thinking of surrogacy?
If you would like legal advice about having a child through surrogacy or being a surrogate mother, please get in touch with us here.