Lester Aldridge Life Matters for Lymington: Navigating Surrogacy Abroad!

Navigating Surrogacy Abroad!

Lester Aldridge Life Matters for Lymington: points to consider for international surrogacy arrangements

In the New Forest as elsewhere, increasing numbers of people wanting their own child are opting for surrogacy as their means to achieve this. 

This month the Lester Aldridge feature article in the "Life Matters for Lymington" series explains the implications of opting for international surrogacy, where the surrogate mother lives and gives birth in an overseas country.

Pregnant surrogate in discussion with couple

What is a surrogacy arrangement and what is international surrogacy?

Surrogacy is where a surrogate mother carries and gives birth to a child for the “intended parent(s)” to become the legal parent(s). International surrogacy is a surrogacy arrangement where the surrogate mother lives and gives birth in an overseas country.

More and more couples/ individuals are using surrogacy arrangements to help build their families. However, in the recent case of Y & Anor v V & Ors [October 2022] EWFC 120, Justice Theis highlighted the importance of prospective intended parent(s) taking legal advice, to understand what is required of them to become the legal parent(s) of a child born via surrogate outside of the UK, before any surrogacy arrangement is entered into.

Why seek advice?

There is no international surrogacy regulation, treaty or convention recognised in the UK currently. Crucially, this means that:

  • a surrogacy arrangement abroad is not automatically recognised in the UK; and
  • the intended parent(s) will not automatically be recognised as the child’s legal parent(s) in the UK; even if they have acquired parental rights in the country the child was born in and/or are named on the birth certificate.

When the surrogate mother gives birth to a child, she is viewed by the UK courts as the child’s legal mother (regardless of whether she is genetically related or not to the child), unless and until a parental order is made. A parental order transfers the legal parenthood from the surrogate, and her spouse if applicable, to the intended parent(s).

The case of Y & Anor v V & Ors [October 2022] EWFC 120

This case involved a same-sex couple living in Thailand who entered into a surrogacy arrangement in Georgia, despite the fact that same-sex surrogacy is not allowed in that jurisdiction. The surrogate gave birth to twins and the applicants applied for parental orders to obtain legal parenthood for the twins.

Issues arose for the applicants in terms of: a) establishing their domicile in the UK when living abroad, b) the surrogate had not disclosed she was married and the husband had not expressly consented, c) the court had to review the significant payments made to the surrogate and d) the case involved further delays with the immigration process obtaining British passports for the twins.

The family court did grant parental orders, naming the applicants as the legal parents of both children, however, this case highlights the importance of seeking legal advice to try to avoid the typical pitfalls and make the process less stressful for you and your child.

Points to consider:

There are various requirements that intended parent(s) should consider, examples of which include:

  • Care should be taken regarding reimbursement for surrogacy related expenses - commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK, however the UK permits reimbursement to a surrogate for surrogacy-related expenses ‘reasonable’ incurred.
  • Ensuring that the surrogate mother (and spouse if applicable) can be located and contacted to seek their consent (no sooner than 6 weeks after the child’s birth); including:
    • Ensuring that the surrogate (and her spouse if applicable) understands the paperwork in order to give their full consent unconditionally, particularly where English is not their first language.
  • Thought should be given as to the surrogacy regulations in the country that the arrangement is taking place. Several countries prohibit surrogacy or do not yet allow same sex-couples to enter into surrogacy arrangements which can further complicate matters.
  • An application for a parental order must be made within six months of the child’s birth and at the time of making of order, the child’s home must be with the intended parent(s).
    • There can be delays due to immigration issues when arranging to return to the UK with the child which means one (or both) parent(s) may be abroad for months to stay with the child. It is crucial to arrange immigration advice to ensure that your child can enter and remain within the UK.
  • Lastly, one (or both) of the applicant(s) must be domiciled in the UK when applying for a parental order. This can require further consideration where the intended parent(s) have been abroad for months (or longer) for the reasons discussed above.

Thinking of a surrogacy arrangement? Get in touch!

Please note that, while it is prohibited to advise on the terms of a surrogacy agreement itself (in accordance with s.2 of the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985); it is still recommended that you seek legal advice early on about the requirements to become legal parent(s) of a child born via an international surrogate. You will also need to arrange immigration advice to ensure your child can enter and remain within the UK.

If you are considering becoming a child’s parent(s) via a surrogacy arrangement please get in touch with our family lawyer Emma Ritchie of Lester Aldridge, for advice and guidance, by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 01202 786144.

Emma Ritchie, Solicitor

Emma Ritchie, Solicitor with Lester Aldridge Solicitors

Article by Emma Ritchie, Solicitor with Lester Aldridge

About Lester Aldridge Solicitors

Lester Aldridge Solicitors are based in London, Southampton and Bournemouth - where the office covering the New Forest is situated conveniently close to the main Bournemouth train station. Their specialist teams in the various fields of law will be happy to advise and assist you, starting with a completely free initial consultation during which you can decide whether you feel able to trust them with your confidential information. Consultations are also available via virtual meetings : advice is available through phone, email, Skype and Zoom.

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Life Matters is a regular monthly feature on Lymington.com, which covers a wide range of legal subjects and is always written by one of the Lester Aldridge team.

You can see a list of all published articles by clicking to the Lester Aldridge Solicitors webpage on Lymington.com here.


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