Fertility & Surrogacy | Becoming Legal Parents
There are very strict rules about who is a parent’s child. At birth, the child’s legal mother is always the surrogate mother. The child’s legal father will depend upon a variety of factors including:
- whether the surrogate mother is married/in a civil partnership (and whether the spouse/civil partner consented to the treatment)
- whose sperm was used
- where the treatment took place and what consent forms were signed
Clearly, this invariably means that the child’s legal parents at birth are not as intended and it is necessary to start legal proceedings to obtain a parental order. It is important to remember that in the UK, only the court is able to change the child’s parents and this is the case even if there is a surrogacy agreement in place or the treatment took place abroad.
The legal proceedings must start no earlier than 6 weeks, but no later than 6 months after the child was born.
Once proceedings are underway, the court will normally order a ‘reporting officer’ to carry out various checks to ensure that the criteria for a parental order are met. They will, for example, check that the child is living with the commissioning parents, that only “reasonable expenses” have been paid and that there is free and unconditional consent to the parental order being made.
If everything works through smoothly and no issues are flagged up, the court will usually grant a parental order and a new birth certificate will be issued naming the child’s new parents.