The legal pitfalls of surrogacy

Surrogacy seems to be making the news more and more often. The debates about the morality of surrogacy rage strongly, especially using a surrogate from a foreign country. But it is not just morality that prospective surrogate parents have to worry about, but also the legalities of their parentage rights over their new child.

In the UK, commercial surrogacy is illegal. It is possible to use a friend or family member as a surrogate parent, but the birth mother remains the legal mother until a parental order has been completed. This means that the mother can legally refuse to give up a baby to the other mother or parent.

It is this worry and also the lack of willing surrogates that forces many couples who wish to have a surrogate child abroad. Although countries such as Thailand are trying to tighten the laws and enforcement of laws on commercial surrogacy, around 2000 couples a year return from abroad with a new surrogate child.

This is a high number, especially compared with the figure for parental orders, which stands at only 241 for the previous year. This means that there are hundreds of children being brought up in the UK by people who are not legally recognised as their parents.

This could have potentially very damaging legal implications for the children, especially in the event of separation or death of the parents.

Surrogacy provides a way for parents who can not conceive naturally to have a child that is a blood relation to one of them. It is also a way to have a child without going through the rigours of the adoption process. However, the emotional and legal aspects of surrogacy are exceptionally complicated.

It is vital that you seek legal help with any surrogacy process, not just for you, but also for your new child.

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