In order to become the legal parent of a child born through surrogacy you need to apply for a parental order. Without a parental order you or your partner may not be your child’s legal parent in the UK. This means that you may:
Ben and his partner Lee used a surrogate to help them start their family. Ben explains how having a parental order means that both he and Lee can make important decisions for their daughter, Eleanor.
Julian and Warren also started their family through surrogacy. Here they explain what impact having a parental order has had on raising their daughter Alexia, and what it means for the future.
It is recommended that you seek legal advice before applying for a parental order, if you have not done so already.
You should apply for a parental order within six months of your child being born. If you miss this deadline, we recommend you seek legal advice. There have been cases where the court has extended this deadline, and the court's primary consideration will be the welfare of the child.
You can apply by completing a C51 court form. This can be found at www.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk.
You should then submit the completed form to your local family court, along with:
It’s a busy time with a new born baby – hear what Ben and his partner Lee did to help prepare their parental order application.
Parental Order Reporter Angela gives advice on what records and documentation you should collect during your surrogacy journey, to help when it comes to making a parental order application.
Only couples can apply for a parental order. They must be married, in a civil partnership, or in an 'enduring family relationship'.
Once you apply, a number of further conditions must be met before the court will make a parental order, including:
If you have any questions regarding the conditions, we recommend you seek legal advice. The court will make its decision based on the welfare of the child throughout their life.
If you have a pre-birth contract or agreement with the surrogate you will still need to apply for a parental order. This is because under UK law, any contracts or agreements signed before the child is born are not enforceable.
The law in England can still apply even if the surrogacy took place in another country. This means that you and your partner must obtain a parental order to be considered the legal parents in the UK.
You can find guidance on international surrogacy in the UK Border Agency's Inter-country surrogacy leaflet.
Once your application for a parental order has been made, a Cafcass worker known as a Parental Order Reporter will be appointed. They will help the court to decide whether or not the parental order is in the child’s best interest. Find out more about Parental Order Reporters.
It is also important to begin thinking about how you will make sure that your child grows up familiar and secure with their origins and identity. Find out how to speak to your child about surrogacy.
Parental Order Reporter Angela talks about what parents should do if they are worried that they have not met the criteria for making a parental order application.