UK Parliament considers change in the law to facilitate single-parent surrogacy

Under UK law, the woman who gives birth to a child is automatically considered the child’s legal parent until the intended parents have obtained a parental order. A parental order gives the new parents parental and legal responsibility for the child and removes the surrogate’s parental and legal rights.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (HFEA) governs surrogacy and specifies that applicants can only obtain a parental order if they are a couple living together as partners in an enduring family relationship or spouses.

Whilst it is possible for single parents to enter into surrogacy agreements, under the HFEA, once the child is born they will not be able to obtain a parental order providing them with parental and legal rights for the child.

Since the case of Re Z(A Child) [2016] last year, there has been widespread support for this situation to change. In the case of Re Z (A Child), despite the fact a single father had been able to obtain a judgment extinguishing the surrogate mother’s rights in the USA, he was unable to apply for a parental order in the UK. In giving judgment, Sir James Munby made a declaration that the HFEA was incompatible with Article 14 (no discrimination) and Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

A remedial order has been put before UK Parliament which, if passed, will give single people the same rights as couples to become the legal parents of their surrogate-born children.

The remedial order is currently being considered by Parliament within the 60 day consideration period and is expected to be passed within 4 to 6 months. Once passed, it will apply to future applications for parental orders however there will be a one-off six-month period in which families can apply retrospectively if they were unable to do so before.

If you have any questions in respect of surrogacy arrangements please do not hesitate to contact a member of our specialist Family Law team today on 0161 927 3118.