Having a child, or helping others to do so, is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. Whether you are planning to use surrogacy, assisted reproduction, donor conception, co-parenting or adoption, it's important to understand the legal issues.
Surrogacy may be an option you are considering. It is always recommended that you take legal advice early on so that you understand what is required to ensure that you (and your partner) are the legal parent(s) of your child at the end of the process. Being a legal parent is different to parental responsibility and the two give different legal rights and responsibilities.
You may also be thinking about adoption. Whether you are looking to adopt by yourself or with a partner, remember that most UK agencies will not assess you for adoption if you are still having fertility treatment and will expect you to wait a period of time before applying for adoption (usually 6-12 months after the end of fertility treatment).
Things are a little more complicated if you are looking to adopt a child from another country. As with adopting within the UK, you need to be approved as a suitable prospective adopter by an adoption agency authorised to deal with inter-country adoptions. However, you will also need to adhere to the adoption eligibility requirements of the country you are looking to adopt from.
We can guide you through the law at whatever stage of the process you are at, supporting you in creating and protecting your family.
We can help you with any legal process needed to ensure your family is legally recognised, including adoption applications, declarations of parentage and parental orders after surrogacy as well as dealing with immigration concerns.
We are one of only a few firms who are able to offer a completely joined-up service and our lawyers have a growing national reputation for dealing with unusual or untested situations. Some recent examples include:
- Advising intended parents on an application for a parental order following an international surrogacy arrangement where there were issues relating to the intended parents’ domicile and expenses paid to the surrogate.
- Using a collaborative approach to advise co-parents on legal parentage.
- Advising a parent in an application for a declaration of parentage where novel issues around consent and legal parentage arose, leading the Secretary of State for Health to intervene in the proceedings.
- Advising a fertility clinic in a group action case involving declarations of parentage.
- Representing the surrogate mother in a case where the relationship between the intended parents had broken down during the pregnancy and the intended mother could not apply for a parental order, leaving the surrogate as a legal parent. This case has led to a change in the law allowing single applicants to apply for parental orders.