Surrogacy in the UK

Our team of leading surrogacy lawyers can provide expert legal advice on UK surrogacy arrangements.

If you have or are considering creating your family through a UK (sometimes called “domestic”) surrogacy arrangement, it’s important to take legal advice to make sure you - and your partner if you have one - are recognised as the legal parents of your child. We can help you understand the legal issues at any stage of your surrogacy journey whether it is before using a surrogate, during the pregnancy or after the birth of your child.  

Our lawyers

Our fertility lawyers are recognised as experts in UK surrogacy law and act for intended parents and surrogates. Not only do our lawyers have an in-depth knowledge of the law but we take a solution-focused approach. With seven offices based around the country we can advise you wherever you are based.  

We are one of only a few firms who can offer a full service and can advise you on all aspects of a surrogacy from parental orders to specialist Wills.  

Our lawyers have acted in ground-breaking cases including: 

  • Acting for a surrogate mother in a UK surrogacy where the intended parents’ relationship had broken down during the pregnancy and at the time it was not possible for the intended parents to apply for a parental order. The child was made a ward of the court to ensure the intended mother could exercise parental responsibility for him. Eventually after the law changed the intended parents were able to successfully apply for a parental order when the child was age 3. This led to two reported cases Re F v M v SM [2017] EWHC 2176 (Fam) and Re A (Surrogacy: s.54 Criteria) [2020] EWHC 1426 (Fam). 

What do you need to know 

Under UK law, the woman who gives birth (the surrogate) is the legal mother of the child. It is important to be aware that she is responsible for registering the child within six weeks of the birth. 

Who else is a legal parent will depend on whether the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership and, if she is single, whether fertility treatment took place at a licenced UK fertility clinic and what consent forms were signed.   

  • If she is married her husband will be the legal father 
  • If she is in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership, her wife or civil partner will be the other legal parent 
  • If she is unmarried, the intended father is often also the legal father (assuming he is the child’s biological father) 
  • However, if conception takes place at a fertility clinic in the UK someone else can be nominated as the second legal parent, for example an intended mother or a non-biological father 

The legal solution in the UK for resolving parenthood in surrogacy cases is a parental order. This is a court order which makes the intended parent(s) the legal parents of the child and permanently extinguishes the parenthood of the surrogate and her spouse. The intended parents must apply to the court for the order and a judge will assess their application. Once the order is made, the child’s birth will be re-registered to record the intended parents as the legal parents.  

A parental order is essential to ensure that intended parents are recognised as legal parents of their child and have parental responsibility for them.  

When making a parental order, the judge needs to be satisfied not only that making the order will be in the child’s best interests but that a number of specific criteria have been met: 

  • The intended parents (or at least one of them) are genetically related to the child.  
  • The child was carried by a surrogate as a result of assisted reproduction techniques (ie was not conceived naturally).  
  • Either there is one intended parent (eg a single parent) or if there are two intended parents they are married/in a civil partnership or in an enduring family relationship together (same-sex couples and co-parents are eligible to apply for parental orders as joint applicants. In some circumstances separated couples will still qualify as being in an enduring family relationship).  
  • Any intended parent must be over the age of 18.  
  • The child has their home with the intended parent(s) and at least one intended parent is domiciled in the UK, Channel Islands, or Isle of Man.  
  • The application is made within six months of the child being born (although the court has the discretion to extend this time limit).  
  • The surrogate and anyone else who is treated as a legal parent at birth has given consent to a parental order being made more than six weeks after the child’s birth.  
  • Any payments which were not for expenses reasonably incurred has been approved by the court.  

If intended parents do not obtain a parental order in the UK they will not be recognised as their child’s legal parents. We can help advise intended parents and surrogates to navigate the process of applying for a parental order and help legally protect parents.  


Vlogs from our divorce law solicitors

In this vlog, Caitlin Jenkins, the family law vlogger, introduces her colleague, Mills & Reeve's Rose-Marie Drury, one of the specialist children law experts at Mills & Reeve. They discuss the sort of work Rose-Marie does in supporting families and their children and her passion for supporting the reform of the law relating to Surrogacy in England & Wales.
In this vlog, Caitlin Jenkins, the familylawvlogger talks to her Mills & Reeve specialist children law colleague, Rose-Marie Drury, about Surrogacy. What is it? What should you think about if you are thinking of entering in to a Surrogacy arrangement?

Frequently Asked Questions


Blog: Who’s a parent?

More and more children are born every year using assisted reproduction involving either co-parents (two people who are not in a relationship together but want to have a child), a sperm donor, an egg donor or a surrogate. So who is a parent in these situations and why does it matter?

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