The question of surrogacy is an area of family law which is not often discussed in public. Indeed, many people think that surrogacy is still illegal in the UK, but that is not the case. Provided it is not carried out for profit, then surrogacy is an accepted practice.
In June of this year, both the Scottish Law Commission and the Law Commission of England and Wales announced that surrogacy laws were falling behind the times, were unfit for purpose and needed a complete overhaul. The intention with any review of the surrogacy laws is to ensure every party is fully protected throughout the process, including surrogates, intended parents and, of course, children themselves. At present, apart from the fact that surrogacy shall not be carried out for a profit, the rest of the legislation is unclear.
It has been proposed that legislation is brought forward to allow intended parents to become the child’s legal parents at birth, so long as the surrogate is allowed to retain a certain right to object for a short period after giving birth. Currently, intended parents have to apply to the courts to become the child’s legal parents and this is not granted until they receive a Parental Order. This process can take months, especially if there is a challenge, and can obviously cause considerable distress.
A consultation process is underway and this is designed to find out how to move the legislation forward and ensure that everybody is properly protected, particularly the child. The review is fairly wide ranging and is also looking at sensitive topics, such as egg donation.
Proposals suggest that the current system should be a “pathway” that aims to give greater certainty to intended parents and to give the child a greater degree of stability from the moment of his or her birth. Other proposals include:~
It is highly likely that surrogacy will remain as a non-profit arrangement to prevent exploitation. Whilst surrogate mothers can be paid a certain amount in “reasonable expenses” at present, the law is vague when it comes to defining what “reasonable expenses” actually are. The consultation process should help to provide a greater degree of clarity as to how much money should change hands.
If you are considering surrogacy but are unsure of your rights as either an intended parent or a potential surrogate mother, our advice is to talk to a specialist in Family Law, who can help you navigate your way through this sensitive and emotive issue. Contact us on 0141 221 1919 or fill in our online contact form