Surrogacy for single men and women
English law does not prevent single people having children through surrogacy, but it makes it very difficult. The legal solution for surrogacy (which gives parenthood to the intended parents after the birth and extinguishes the status of the surrogate mother) is only available to couples. This can leave solo parents without the legal authority that they need to be able to raise their child in the UK. If a child is born abroad, it can also create significant immigration difficulties.
We want to see this changed, to accommodate single parents, and are continuing to lobby for this. In the meantime, single men and women building a family through surrogacy must take great care with the legal issues and may need to be creative with the law.
What are the risks of surrogacy for a single parent?
English law might not recognise you as a parent of your child, even if you are the biological parent (and even if you are named as the parent on a foreign birth certificate). This can affect your legal right to make decisions about your child's care in the UK. Your surrogate mother is also likely to retain rights and status under English law (including financial responsibility) which might be difficult for you to dissolve.
If your child is born through surrogacy abroad, difficulties might also arise in relation to your child's nationality and immigration status, which could leave your child stranded abroad.
The extent to which these risks apply and whether they can be managed depends on your particular circumstances. There may be legal options available (including adoption, and creative uses of fertility law) but these are likely to be less certain than the routes available to couples.
How we can help
We have represented hundreds of families created through surrogacy, including most of the international surrogacy cases which have shaped the law, and the first single dad to pursue surrogacy in the UK. We are also proud to champion solo parent families. Natalie drafted an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 which was debated in Parliament (but unfortunately rejected) and which would have opened parental orders to solo mothers and fathers. We were also heavily involved in the abolition of the previous legal requirement for UK fertility clinics to consider the child's 'need for a father' before giving treatment, something which for many years discriminated against solo mothers. Find out more about our surrogacy law services.
In 2013, we also launched Brilliant Beginnings, a UK based non-profit making surrogacy and egg donation agency. Our commitment is to support parents with the practicalities of building families through surrogacy in the UK and internationally, in ways which are safe, legal, ethical and responsible. We are also campaigning through Brilliant Beginnings for better law for single parents. Find out more about how Brilliant Beginnings helps single dads and single mums with surrogacy, and about our campaign for single parents.
More information and NGA in the news
First single dad to become a parent through UK surrogacy - November 2012
A guide for single dads building families - from our blog