A call for legal reform in Surrogacy

Children|Surrogacy|November 16th 2018

Two news stories about surrogacy attracted my attention yesterday, and both headlines confirmed the urgent need for legal reform in this area. The first (which can be found here) sets out how it took one set of intended parents eight months before they were able to be officially recognised as their daughter’s legal parents (by virtue of a parental order) while the other (which can be found here), with a catchy headline of ‘surrogate mothers could be allowed to charge cash’ is arguably misleading, as UK law already permits surrogates to be paid.

Having dealt with a large number of parental order applications myself, it is common to see payments made to surrogates of between £8,000 to £16,000 and for this to be set out as a surrogate’s ‘reasonable expenses.’ Reasonable expenses are one of the criteria a family court will consider when looking at a parental order application, and payments of that size are readily accepted. It is important to also note that should a family court believe that more than reasonable expenses have been made, they do have the ability to authorise any payments made retrospectively.

These applications can also take some time, and a time frame of eight months to obtain a parental order, as set out in the first article, is sadly not unusual. When meeting clients who are considering a surrogacy arrangement, the advice I give is that it will usually take between six to twelve months to obtain a parental order after their baby has been born. There are certain cases where this might not take as long (for example, in one case I have represented some intended parents who have been through a surrogacy arrangement in the UK and we have managed to get an application through the family court system in four and a half months after the birth) and others which will take considerably longer (because of a variety of reasons, such as administrative delays or particularly busy court diaries). The problem with this is that intended parents are left in a state of limbo in which they are caring for a child that, more than likely, they will have no legal responsibility for. In reality, this rarely causes any difficulty, with most parents being able to muddle through the period before a parental order is made without experiencing any issue however, it is not a comfortable situation for new parents to find themselves in, and clients are always concerned about this.

It is far from a perfect system, and is one that certainly needs addressing to keep up with the growing number of parents who are considering surrogacy as an option for either starting or growing their family. I was therefore extremely pleased to see earlier in the year that the Law Commission have included surrogacy in their Thirteenth Programme of Law Reform. Work on this has already started and although the commission isn’t expected to complete its work for 2-3 years, this will hopefully give both the time and attention needed to ensure that all of the relevant issues are addressed, and the result of their findings will hopefully be a better legal framework which protects both intended parents and surrogates in a far more appropriate way.

Bethan Cleal, Surrogacy Team at Stowe Family Law

Bethan advises on all aspects of family law and is a specialist in domestic and international surrogacy arrangements. Following her training in a niche fertility law firm, she has experience of fertility cases involving legal parentage and donor conception.

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  1. Alex says:

    Changes are taking place in the legal sphere of surrogacy around the world
    I’ll write what I know, because I know the subject and follow the news.
    As of late various changes in the legitimate field of conceptive medication have happened. Such nations as the United States and India are thinking about administrative changes in the circle of business surrogate parenthood.
    USA: In New York State, discussions and arguments about the legitimization of business surrogate parenthood don’t die down. News shows and TV projects are brimming with materials with feelings of sexual minorities and activists on this issue. Also, women’s activists and warriors for the privileges of ladies call upon not to authorize business surrogate parenthood.
    India: On July 3, 2019, there was endorsed a law on the guideline of business surrogate parenthood. The administration intends to make a National Surrogate Motherhood Council at the focal level, just as state committees and pertinent experts in states and association regions. It is worth to take note of that the law was endorsed twice, however the date of its appropriation is as yet not known.
    Ukraine: Despite the pattern towards legitimate changes on the planet, everything in Ukraine stays unaltered. The laws overseeing the privileges everything being equal: surrogate moms, hereditary guardians and tyke – still guarantee the legitimate execution of business surrogate parenthood programs. The youngster conceived by surrogate mother lawfully leaves Ukraine with authority reports where just his natural guardians are demonstrated.
    Personally, I used surrogacy services in Ukraine at the Feskov Clinic. And I can tell you with confidence: the surrogate motherhood in Ukraine with the use of services of Feskov Human Reproduction Group is the simplest and legal way to happiness of being parents. This clinic provides a legal support service, including preparation of a Ukrainian-format passport for the child to provide an unimpeded travel to any country.

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