To begin with, it is important to point out that a parental order is not about access to surrogacy.  The granting of a parental order affects the transfer of parental responsibility and legal parenthood to the commissioning/intended parent of a child born out of a surrogacy arrangement.  The granting of the parental order extinguishes the status of the surrogate mother (and her husband or civil partner, where appropriate).  By the making of a parental order, the intended parents are treated as though the child was born to them in first instance.

The parental order is only sought after the child is born and the intended parents are expected to make an application within six months of the birth of the child.  Prior to the case of Re Z (A Child) (No.2) [2016] EWHC 1191 Fam, single adults faced some difficulty in obtaining a parental order under section 54(1) and (2) of the Human Fertilisations and Embryology Act 2008.  The importance of Re Z is significant for single adults wishing to use the surrogacy process to build a family.  The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, declared in this case that certain provisions of one of the two principal statutes governing the area were incompatible with a father and child’s rights pursuant to the European Convention of Human Rights.

This ruling has changed the landscape to the granting of parental order, because the courts are now prepared to consider the making of such orders for single adults.  Prior to this case, a single adult wishing to have a family was reliant on the process of adoption under the Adoption Act 1926.

As it stands, practitioners are eagerly awaiting the proposed amendments to statute and following the Law Commission’s consultation.

For single adults considering surrogacy as a way forward for them, it is vitally important to obtain legal advice from a family law specialist. For more information, or a preliminary, confidential discussion contact our Fertility expert Anne-Marie Hamer.