Throughout the world there are countless couples who are struggling to conceive. Using surrogate parents is sometimes a viable option for those who wish to raise a family. Although using surrogate parents can be hugely rewarding, it can be a challenging and complex process from a legal perspective.
There are many different options available to couples who wish to pursue surrogacy. The process involves a willing female to carry and give birth to a child for another couple. This couple could be married or in a civil partnership or just cohabiting.
When the baby is born, he or she will not belong to the surrogate and will be handed over to the surrogate couple. As a result this presents a minefield of legal issues to navigate through.
There are two different types of surrogacy; gestational and traditional.
Gestational Surrogacy – The most common method which requires the egg of the intended mother or a donor and the child is not in any way related through genetics to the surrogate mother. Gestational surrogacy is commonly used for women who cannot carry a child to full term.
Traditional Surrogacy – A surrogate mothers egg is fertilized through a sperm donor or using the sperm of the intended father. In this case, the child will be genetically related to the surrogate mother.
In both of the options the child can be conceived through IVF treatment.
Traditionally, a couple who could not conceive and who chose surrogacy would select a surrogate mother from the same country. In certain countries however couples do not have the option of surrogacy due to legal or financial restrictions.
In recent years, the growth of international surrogacy has continued to rise, but this presents a number of legal issues.
Legal Issues and Surrogacy
Entering into a surrogacy agreement is something that should not be taken with little thought.
Contractual Agreements – Where there is an agreement with a women to act as a surrogate parent with similar rules and regulations outlined in the laws of contract. A number of people feel that this is not necessarily the best option.
Surrogate Fees – You must be very careful when it comes to money and surrogacy because exchanging money for a child is against the law. Many feel that it is not a good idea to provide a lump sum payment it is better to provide a monthly allowance.
A monthly allowance is preferable which will cover costs such as insurance, medication and certain foods to ensure that the pregnancy is healthy and safe as possible. The monthly allowance will need to be clearly stated in the surrogacy agreement and it should state what this is for.
It is also recommended that a clause is incorporated into the agreement in relation to parental rights. Often this will state that the surrogate mother and her partner if relevant will not have any legal or parental rights over the child once it is born. This will remove any claim that the surrogate mother may have in future.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.