Mike and Marie have been trying to conceive for a number of years with IVF treatments all failing, and now they are looking to have a surrogacy arrangement.

Is this legal in the UK? Maria asks.

Altruistic surrogacy arrangements are the only permitted surrogacy arrangement in the UK; commercial surrogacy is illegal.  Surrogacy agreements, even those drawn up, are not legally binding but may help set out the framework for the future.

Mike wonders where they should start to make enquiries.

A specialist fertility clinic will be able to point them in the right direction; at the same time, consideration must be given to obtaining specialist legal advice.

Will it be costly, asks Mike, as finances are stretched?

In the UK, the surrogate mother is permitted to receive her reasonable expenses and this must be clear from the outset.  The legal costs must also be factored into this, and advice at an early stage is paramount.

Following detailed enquires, Mike and Maria have decided to embark on the surrogacy route using a surrogate in the UK; they obtained specialist legal advice and all the procedures were followed.  On birth, however, the surrogate is refusing to hand over the baby to the intended parents, and Mike and Maria are now distressed with this.

I would expect Mike and Maria to have made urgent contact with their solicitor over the sudden change of plans by their surrogate, and I would expect the Parental Order to be lodged without delay, with a full statement detailing the events.   A Cafcass Officer would then be appointed to explore the issues between the parties and the reasons behind the surrogate’s change of mind.  If the surrogate’s position remains unchanged, then it is likely that the court would list the matter for a Final Hearing to decide on the application made by the intended parents.

Did you know facts:

  1. There are only a small handful of lawyers in the UK practising Fertility and Surrogacy law.
  2. Commercial Surrogacy is illegal in the United Kingdom.
  3. The laws on altruistic surrogacy in the United Kingdom are governed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.
  4. Data on Surrogacy Arrangements in the United Kingdom is very hard to obtain, with no centralised system or storage of that information.
  5. The number of Parental Orders is increasing in the family courts and Cafcass Officers are now receiving tailored training to deal with these applications.
  6. The precise figures on arrangements abroad are unknown, but past and present cases indicate that intended parents from the UK are travelling overseas for surrogacy.
  7. The surrogate is the only legal parent in the surrogacy arrangement until a Parental Order is made.
  8. Prior to 1985 there was no Act to cover the area of Surrogacy.
  9. Around 1,750 babies in the UK are born each year using donated sperm, eggs or embryos.

For more information, or a preliminary, confidential discussion contact our Fertility expert Anne-Marie Hamer.