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What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is where a woman carries and gives birth to a child for another person or couple. There are two types of surrogacy arrangement:

Traditional surrogacy – the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the intended father or donor’s sperm.

The surrogate not only carries the child but also donates her egg and, as such, she is biologically related to the child.

Gestational surrogacy – the surrogate is implanted with an embryo via IVF and therefore she is not biologically related to the child.

Often the sperm and egg of the intended parents will be used, which means the child will be biologically theirs. Donor egg or sperm can be used if this is not possible but this will impact your ability to apply for a parental order.

Why consider surrogacy?

Surrogacy may be an appropriate solution for people who struggle to get pregnant or have a medical condition which makes it dangerous or impossible for them to give birth.

There are many reasons why an individual or couple might struggle with infertility issues, such as low sperm count, pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis. Using a surrogate could be the best option for those individuals to have a baby.

It is also a popular choice for male same-sex couples who want to have children. As these couples are unable to conceive a child naturally, many seek the help of a surrogate mother to help them reach parenthood.

Some families opt for surrogacy over adoption as the process is typically less lengthy. For those who have always wanted a child that is blood-related to them, surrogacy is the preferred route to do so.

Experienced surrogacy solicitors

At Stowe Family Law, we’re proud to have a knowledgeable team of specialist surrogacy solicitors who have experience navigating the legalities of the surrogacy process.

Each case is handled with the utmost care and support. You can rely on us to ensure the entire process is as smooth and straightforward as possible. We build trusting relationships with our clients, offering support and guidance when you need it most.

We’re proud to be a member of The Surrogacy Network, the leading directory and platform for surrogacy professionals.

The Surrogacy Network

If you intend to return to the UK following an international surrogacy arrangement, it is vital that you obtain specialist legal advice in the UK because the UK will not recognise any foreign orders or birth certificates. This means the legal parents of your child may not reflect the reality and this needs to be resolved.

Why choose Stowe Family Law as your surrogacy law firm?

  • We’re the UK’s largest national law firm dedicated to family matters, with a specialist team of surrogacy lawyers who handle each case with professionalism and care.
  • We offer a tailored approach to ensure you and your family receive the right support.
  • Communication is key. We pride ourselves on keeping our clients updated throughout the entire process, offering support each step of the way.
  • We’re fully authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and listed in The Legal 500.
  • Delivering quality service to our clients is important to us, which is why we’re proud to be rated ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot.
  • We were named Family Law Firm of the Year by the Hampshire Law Society in 2023 and have received nominations for several national awards.
  • Our support section includes a range of useful guides covering a selection of family law topics, including surrogacy, adoption and other family matters.
Show Transcript

Family Lawyer Liza Gatrell at Stowe Family Law explains what the surrogacy laws are in the UK, is surrogacy legal in the UK, who are the legal parents, what is a parental order, how do you apply for a parental order, what if you cannot obtain a parental order, what happens if you use a surrogate aboard, and how can a family lawyer help?

Surrogacy law solicitors FAQs

Surrogacy law solicitors FAQs

  • Is surrogacy legal in the UK?

    Yes, it has always been legal to enter into a surrogacy arrangement in the UK. However, there are various rules and regulations which need to be carefully considered.

    Surrogacy contracts are unenforceable, which means trust between everyone involved must be established.

    It is also against the law for a third party (such as a solicitor) to take payment for negotiating a surrogacy contract.

  • What is a surrogacy agreement, and are they legally binding?

    A surrogacy agreement involves a person (the surrogate) agreeing to carry and give birth for an individual or couple (the intended parents). The intention is that the individual or couple will become the baby’s parents following the birth.

    This agreement is not enforceable in the UK and the intended parent(s) will need to apply to the court to become the legal parents of the child.

  • Is it legal to pay our surrogate?

    Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to pay a surrogate mother for her services in the UK.

    However, during the parental order application, the court will need to authorise any payments made over and above the expenses they have reasonably incurred. This could include travel expenses, maternity clothes and loss of earnings.

    There is no definition of reasonable expenses, which means the court must decide what is reasonable in each case.

    The court often takes quite a relaxed approach and there is a history of the High Court approving payments in international cases that equate to more than expenses.

  • What other costs are involved with surrogacy?

    Apart from the costs of reimbursing your surrogate for various expenses, you’ll also need to pay for your clinic treatment. The price of this will vary depending on your chosen treatment.

    If you plan to use the surrogate’s own eggs, you’ll require intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatment. If you’re using your own eggs and sperm, or donated eggs, you’ll have in vitro fertilisation (IVF), which is usually more expensive. If the sperm you use isn’t of the highest quality, you may need to pay for an intracytoplasmic sperm injection at an additional cost.

  • Can the intended parents be named on the child's birth certificate?

    The birth certificate must reflect the legal position at birth.

    This means the surrogate will always be named on the birth certificate in the UK. Whether one of the intended parents can be named depends on whether the surrogate is married/in a civil partnership and the circumstances surrounding insemination.

  • What is a parental order?

    A parental order makes the intended parent(s) of the child the legal parents and permanently removes the legal parenthood of the surrogate and her spouse.

    Once the order has been made, the birth will be reregistered and the original birth certificate will be sealed and only accessible to the child once they are over 18 years old.

    The court process can take between four to 12 months and usually involves one or two court hearings.

  • Can the surrogate change their mind and try to keep the baby?

    The surrogate remains the legal parent until a parental order is made.

    The surrogate’s consent is also required before a parental order can be made.

    Many intended parents worry about what would happen if the surrogate wanted to keep the baby but cases of this happening are incredibly rare. The surrogate can also be concerned that they may be left holding the baby if the intended parents change their minds or their circumstances change.

  • What are the most common overseas surrogacy destinations?

    The most popular destinations for surrogacy arrangements abroad are the US, Canada, Georgia, Greece and, previously, Ukraine. It is important to do extensive research before embarking upon a surrogacy arrangement abroad. It may be that your marital status and gender dictate the options available to you.

    You must comply with the law in both the UK and your destination country.

  • If I am named on the foreign birth certificate/post -birth order, will I be recognised as the legal parent in the UK?

    No. In the UK, the surrogate will always be the legal mother.

    Whether one of the intended parents can be recognised as the legal parent at birth depends on the surrogate’s marital status and the circumstances surrounding the insemination.

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Liza is based in our Winchester & Southampton offices and is experienced in divorce, financial matters, and legal issues issues involving children.

Date last reviewed: 04/06/2024


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