5 Top Tips for Stress Free Surrogacy
Surrogacy is an opportunity to recognise and promote equality for families. It is one of the ways couples or single people can start or grow a family. But without proper planning, complications can arise with wide reaching consequences for those involved.
Parental Orders, which transfer the legal parenthood from the surrogate (and her partner if married or in a civil partnership) to the intended parents, are only available if a number of criteria can be met.
Planning, thought and research are key.
The good news is that a well-planned and thought through surrogacy arrangement doesn’t need to be stressful and can be a happy experience for families and surrogates alike.
Our Top Tips for Surrogacy
These are our 5 top tips to get you started on the road to a seamless path and successful surrogacy:
1) Research the location for your treatment - Surrogacy arrangements can take place at home or abroad. The costs, fertility treatment, medical care and social attitudes to the process or the intended parents (for example, LGBT+ people) will vary hugely in different parts of the world. Surrogacy is illegal in many countries.
In others, it is unregulated. By taking care to choose the right location, you can avoid these pitfalls. And you should take care even if you decide to proceed in this country by making sure that your chosen clinic is a good fit for you and is regulated by the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority.
It is not compulsory to use a clinic, but it is important that if you don’t, you understand the additional risks, such as a lack of health-screening.
2) Consider a written agreement - In England and Wales, surrogacy agreements will not be legally binding contracts, but they are helpful in making sure everybody is on the same page about the arrangements.
They can help make sure that disputes do not arise or if they do, that they can be easily resolved. They also serve as important evidence of the surrogacy arrangement.
3) Get support – it is available and it helps - Surrogacy journeys can be emotional and complex. Counsellors or therapists specialising in fertility treatment exist and are there to help both intended parents and surrogates navigate the process.
It’s another way to make sure that everybody is on the same page, is making the right decisions for themselves, and to avoid disputes.
In some places, and for many clinics in England and Wales, it will even be mandatory.
There are also lots of support groups for people who are thinking of or going through surrogacy and for those using donated gametes. They can also be useful sources of support and information.
4) Know that in the UK, surrogacy for commercial gain is a criminal offence - While the Court accepts you can pay a surrogate reasonable expenses, in England and Wales, you can’t pay or receive a commercial payment in pursuit of a surrogacy arrangement.
This can have serious criminal consequences. It is a condition of getting a Parental Order to become your child’s legal parent, that no commercial payments have been made, unless those payments are subsequently sanctioned by the court.
Commercial surrogacy is not prohibited in every country so it’s important to keep this in mind, especially when going abroad.
It’s not illegal to undertake a commercial surrogacy in a country where it is legal, and then return home to the UK, but the court will then need to sanction the payments if they relate to commercial costs. This will be straightforward if your costs are in keeping with local law and practice.
5) Take legal advice before you start - It might be no surprise that this is a Fertility Lawyer’s top tip. But it is so, so important. Surrogacy is legally complex and delicate. Parental Orders involve strict legal criteria.
Understanding the legal position is essential to know whether surrogacy is right for you. Without it, it could seriously impact parental rights and the legal parenthood of the children involved.
But it doesn’t need to be difficult to navigate and we know how to help. It is important you get that help, so you can move forward in an informed way.
If you are planning a surrogacy arrangement abroad, this applies equally in both countries, and immigration advice is also crucial, to ensure you can all return home together as planned.
Get in touch today for expert legal advice at the start of your journey to building a family through surrogacy.
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