New law allows single people to become parents via surrogacy

family law

A change in the law regarding surrogacy will allow single people to become parents via surrogacy.

Following a surrogate birth, English law continues to define the birth mother as the legal mother of the child, despite the fact that most such births involve the use of donated eggs. The status of parenthood must then be transferred via a ‘parental order’.

However, section 54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 requires that applicants for a parental order must be:

“(a) husband and wife,

(b) civil partners of each other, or

(c) two persons who are living as partners in an enduring family relationship and are not within prohibited degrees of relationship in relation to each other.”

Last year, President of the Family Division Sir James Munby highlighted this exclusion of single commissioning parents, declaring that the law discriminates against them and breaches their human rights. He had been considering the case of a single man who had commissioned a child from a surrogate mother in the United States and was subsequently refused a parental order because he had no partner.

Now the government has officially announced plans to change the law.

Conservative Peer Baroness Chisholm told fellow members of the House of Lords:

“[We have decided] the Government’s response to the recent High Court judgment that declared that a provision in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008—which enables couples but not single people to obtain a parental order following surrogacy—is incompatible with the Human Rights Act. We will, therefore, update the legislation on parental orders to ensure that it is compatible with the court judgment.”

She announced plans for a ‘remedial order’ that will place single people with a biological connection to the child on a level playing field with couples when applying for a parental order. Remedial orders are an occasionally used way of quickly altering legislation that has been found to breach human rights. They are placed before Parliament for just two periods before becoming law.

A recent written answer a question in the House of Lords suggests that the remedial order will be introduced in May. This could mean the change taking effect before the end of the summer. Reports also suggest the change is likely to be retrospective.

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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2 comments

Spinner - February 10, 2017 at 5:30pm

This is a great equaliser for men, the ideal will always be two people but just as a lot of women choose to be single parents and use sperm donars so can single men.

JamesB - February 11, 2017 at 2:12pm

Very pleased about this. Especially for my gay male friends who I feel should be entitled to get married and have children where lesbians have and they have not in the past.

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