Surrogacy arrangements are sometimes entered into by heterosexual couples struggling to conceive, and by gay men wishing to become parents independently rather than through co-parenting.
The law in the UK has recently been updated to allow surrogacy for gay men.
Surrogacy is permitted in the UK, but it operates in a restricted environment. It is, for example, illegal to advertise that you are looking for a surrogate mother and it is illegal for commercial bodies to broker surrogacy arrangements. Most UK surrogacy arrangements therefore involve either a friend or family member, or a surrogate mother found through one of the UK’s legal non-profit making surrogacy agencies. Others go abroad for surrogacy, although it is important to be aware that the legal issues associated with international surrogacy can be incredibly complex and it is critical to get specialist legal advice before embarking on an international arrangement.
Under English law, the surrogate mother is always treated as the legal mother of a surrogate born child at birth. The rules on who is treated as the child’s other parent are complicated and depend on the surrogate’s marital status and the circumstances.
The intended parents must then apply to court after their child is born to become his or her legal parents. The process of applying for a parental order takes a number of months, and there are strict criteria which the parents applying for the order must meet (including that at least one is a biological parent, that they are a couple, that they apply within six months of the birth, that they have not paid more than reasonable expenses and that they have sufficient links with the UK).
For more information, visit Natalie Gamble associates' pages on surrogacy law.