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Modern families, law and Surrogacy Awareness Month

March marks the start of Surrogacy Awareness Month in the USA and while there is no English equivalent, surrogacy has been discussed extensively in the news recently and has become more prevalent.

Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Ricky Martin and Elton John have all talked about their experiences using surrogates.

There are different types of surrogacy depending on need. It is illegal in the UK to advertise for a surrogate or pay a surrogate to carry the baby for you (other than paying incidental expenses) but not-for-profit agencies can help those seeking surrogates to find a match. Surrogacy is open to heterosexual and homosexual couples and also to single people.

There are several legal points to be aware of in the UK. When a baby is born, the woman giving birth to the child is legally the child’s parent; if she is married or in a civil relationship, her partner is legally the other parent.

To legally be recognised as the baby’s parents, the intended parent or parents must apply to the Family Courts for parental responsibility and to be recognised legally as the baby’s parent. This can be done through the family courts but it is always advisable that anyone considering making such an application seeks legal advice first.

Surrogacy agreements are not enforceable in the UK but they are still often a useful agreement to consider. This gives you an opportunity to speak to your surrogate and consider things like how you both view religion, diet, exercise, social activities and birthing to name a few examples.

Some parents may choose to go abroad for surrogacy as some countries, such as the USA, allow for legally binding surrogacy agreements and also make provisions for ensuring the parents are legally parents with parental responsibility. This area can still be fraught with confusion and pitfalls and legal advice is strongly recommended to avoid later ending up in a difficult situation legally.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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