When a couple cannot have children of their own, surrogacy can be the only way to have a child that is genetically linked. Surrogacy is the agreement, which may be drawn up legally, between a person or persons and a woman who agrees to bear the child for them. The current legal provisions for this arrangement make it necessary for many couples to choose to work with a team of surrogacy lawyers in order to facilitate the process and be legally recognized as the child’s parents after birth.
The current surrogacy law in the United Kingdom has been put through a consultation phase that ended in October 2019. At the moment, the policy is under development and the authorities expect to produce a paper with the recommendations for the reform of the law and a draft Bill in 2022. Until then, couples who wish to have children using this method can reach out to our surrogacy lawyers for any questions.
Our team also includes a divorce lawyer in London who can help answer questions related to separation and the commencement of the divorce proceedings in those situations in which the couple was involved with a surrogate mother. If you were waiting to become parents through surrogacy and, unfortunately, you have decided on your separation before the baby was born, our team can help answer questions about custody.
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What is the main law on surrogacy in the UK?
Surrogacy in the United Kingdom is governed by the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 and a number of provisions included in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. According to the law in force, the couple needs to wait until after the child is born in order to be able to apply to the court to become parents. In many cases, this is a lengthy process and it may hinder the parent’s ability to be able to make important decisions about the child’s care given the fact that they need to wait in order to be legally perceived as the parents.
In addition to the issues which the parents face, the surrogate mother may also have issues when or if she chooses to claim expenses during pregnancy.
The project reform, which was under open public consultation, aims to clarify these issues. Our surrogacy lawyers can give you updated information on the changes that are expected under this reform and how they may impact your decision to use a surrogate mother (and what you can expect if you have already entered into a surrogacy agreement before the law changes).
The proposals are merely provisional at this stage, however, key changes in the law concern the creation of new surrogacy steps that will allow the couple to become the legal parents the moment the child is born and specific regulations in the agreement that will allow the parties to be protected against broken down arrangements.
The Law Commission is the independent law reform adviser that has undertaken to review the surrogacy law in the United Kingdom.
How can your surrogacy lawyers help?
Our team of lawyers in the UK can help you with essential information on the agreement between yourself and the woman who will carry your child or children. Our lawyers specialize in the Surrogacy Agreements Act as well as the Family Law and are able to guide you through this process.
Specialized legal aid is advisable in all cases, in order to protect both parties (the future parents as well as the woman who carries the child). However, we highly advise those who are interested in international surrogacy to reach out to our surrogacy lawyers in order to receive important information and expert advice on his this process takes place when the childbearing woman is not a UK resident or citizen.
How is surrogacy perceived in the UK?
The need for a surrogacy law reform has been highlighted in the public consultations that have taken place in 2019. While the UK has regulated these types of agreements for 30 years, little has changed in the governing law and the need for a better parental transfer mechanism, along with other significant changes, was indicated by many of the respondents to the largest study on surrogacy conducted in the UK.
Some of the essential facts and figures on this matter are listed below by our surrogacy lawyers:
- 70% of surrogates in the UK believe that they should be allowed to claim expenses;
- 84% of the respondents also believed that the law should change so that parenthood would be automatically recognised at birth;
- 98 surrogates were questioned in the survey;
- In recent years, the number of Parental Orders (the parental rights transfer mechanism) has increased from only 63 in 2008-2009 to 281 in 2017-2018.
Having a child through a surrogate mother brings hope to many parents who have waited for a long time to have children. The decision is an especially important one, from choosing the childbearing woman to making adequate arrangements that will help both the parents and the woman during this period.
Please feel free to contact our surrogacy lawyers in the UK if you have questions or need assistance in drawing up the surrogacy agreement.