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Assisted Reproduction

Assisted reproduction is the term used for the different ways of getting pregnant through treatment rather than through sexual intercourse.

There are various methods that can be used by female same-sex couples, including donor insemination, egg donation, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI).

You should seek medical advice from the NHS and your GP, as well as an expert fertility lawyer, to ensure you select the best option for you and know the laws around the treatment and legal parenthood.

  • What is reciprocal IVF?

    Reciprocal IVF is one of the most popular fertility treatments for lesbian or trans-men couples. It is a great way in which both partners can participate in the pregnancy.

    It is sometimes called ‘shared motherhood’.

    Reciprocal IVF works by one partner providing the eggs, which are fertilised using donor sperm, and the other partner carries the baby.

  • Is reciprocal IVF legal in the UK?

    Yes, reciprocal IVF is legal.

    Previously, female same-sex couples had to undergo screening for infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, C and rubella before undergoing treatment. This was not a requirement for heterosexual couples. However, the law has now been changed and this screening is no longer a requirement, saving couples up to £1000.

  • What are the pros and cons of reciprocal IVF?

    Reciprocal IVF is a great way for both partners to be actively involved and connected to the child.

    However, although the partner who carried the child would automatically be the baby’s legal parent, the other partner would only be considered such if they were married or in a civil partnership with the birth mother.

    If you are a cohabiting couple, the non-birth mother would need to consent before treatment and would then need to apply for parental responsibility.

Surrogacy for LGBTQ+ Couples

Surrogacy can be a great way for LGBTQ+ couples to build their family. It is primarily used by male same-sex couples, but some female same-sex couples will use this method.

There are two main types of surrogacy: host or gestational surrogacy, and traditional surrogacy.

  • Is surrogacy legal in the UK?

    Surrogacy is when a woman carries and births a baby for another person or couple whom she is not in a romantic relationship with. This woman is called the surrogate/surrogate mother.

    Surrogacy is legal in the UK. However, commercial surrogacy is illegal. Commercial surrogacy is essentially when you pay the surrogate a fee for having the baby for you and it becomes a commercial arrangement.

    It is legal to pay your surrogate reasonable expenses, for example medical costs or travel expenses.

    UK surrogacy law currently says that the surrogate mother is the legal parent of the child, and if she is married, her spouse automatically becomes the other legal parent.

    In order for the intended parents to become legally recognised, a parental order must be sought, within 6 months of the child’s birth. There are various other criteria that must be met, and the process can take several months which can be emotionally and practically stressful.

  • How does surrogacy work for same-sex couples?

    If you are a male same-sex couple, surrogacy can be a great way to grow your family. If you choose traditional surrogacy, one of you would use your sperm with the surrogate’s egg to produce an embryo.

    For gestational surrogacy, donor eggs are used, and the surrogate is then unrelated to the child, but you can still use your sperm.

    For female same-sex couples, a surrogate can used when neither woman can carry a child. Both gestational and traditional surrogacy can be used, with eggs from either of you, but donor sperm would be needed in either case.

    If one of you is transgender, you may be able to use your own sperm.

    ‘Double gamete donation’ means if you and your partner are unable to provide an egg or a sperm, and you must use donor eggs and sperm to create the embryo, is legal in the UK. However, UK law does not support parental order applications if there is no biological connection, so the surrogate mother would remain the baby’s legal parent.

  • What are the pros and cons of surrogacy for same-sex couples?

    There are many positive reasons to pursue surrogacy as an LGBTQ+ couple.

    • In most cases, at least one of you will be genetically related to the child
    • You can be involved from the outset and create a bond with the unborn child
    • Higher success rate than other methods
    • More control over the process than for other fertility treatments or adoption

    However, the law in this country means that the surrogate mother is automatically the child’s legal parent from birth, and her spouse (if she has one) also becomes a legal parent.

    A parental order must be given by the family court to transfer legal parenthood to the intended parents. This can take time and the surrogate must give her permission.

What is platonic co parenting?

Platonic co parenting can look different depending on the parents. It is when two (or more) friends have a child together, or raise an adopted child together but are not, and have never been, in a romantic relationship with each other. They usually do not live together, although this is not always the case.

The child might be adopted, or a surrogate used, or conceived through treatments such as IVF, intracervical insemination (ICI), or intrauterine insemination (IUI).

  • Is platonic co parenting legal?

    Yes, platonic co parenting is legal in the UK.

    There can be complications regarding parental responsibility, so it is best to speak to a lawyer if you are planning on trying platonic co parenting.

    You may also need a platonic co parenting agreement which a lawyer or a mediator can help you with. This agreement is designed to record your intentions and expectations. It could include:

    • Plans for the duration of the pregnancy, e.g., who will attend appointments and classes
    • Plans for the birth
    • Choosing the name
    • Where the child will live and time with each co-parent
    • Views on health, education, childcare and general raising of the child

    It is important to note that these agreements are not legally binding and trust is an essential element to any co parenting relationship.

  • LGBTQ+ platonic co parenting

    If you identify as LGBTQ+, platonic co parenting could be a great option for you. It is usually used by individuals who are happy being single but connect with a friend who shares their parental instincts and desire for a child.

    It is important to note that if both co parents are male and you use a surrogate, the birth mother will be the child’s legal parent and you will need a parental order to transfer legal parenthood.

    If you are a both female, the woman who carries the child will be the legal parent.

    It is best to seek expert advice before embarking on this journey so you can understand the legal implications.

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