Avoiding the pitfalls of inter-country surrogacy
The best Family Solicitors understand that for many, the road to parenthood can be difficult and traumatic. While inter-country surrogacy is a route followed by a relatively small group of people, the complexities can be huge. Not only does inter-country surrogacy raise all the usual issues of surrogacy, there is an additional layer to consider – the Immigration implications of the surrogacy agreement for the parent or parents, and how they will satisfy the UK Immigration authorities to enable them to return to the UK with their baby as a family.
The impact of Immigration rules on inter-country surrogacy
For someone considering surrogacy, Immigration rules may be the last thing on their mind, although good Family Solicitors should immediately recognise the issues. Unfortunately, failure to consider the Immigration status of the baby that they are planning can lead to delay and even more heartache for the intended parents, to add to what has already brought them to consider surrogacy in the first place. The UK’s Immigration rules are strict, and surrogate parents cannot simply bring a child born to a surrogate overseas, back into the UK as their child.
As the Home Office’s complex guidance (which dates back to 2009 and should itself be treated with caution) explains, there are a number of options from an Immigration perspective depending on whether the surrogate mother is married or not; and whether the child has a genetic link to either or both its intended parents (as opposed to the surrogate parent). What is vital to understand is that inter-country surrogacy is by no means a straightforward route to parenthood, and those considering this option would be advised to take advice from top London Family Solicitors with expertise in Immigration law.
Key Immigration issues of inter-country surrogacy
As already mentioned, and as the best London family lawyers will recognise, having a child using a surrogate mother overseas raises a number of Immigration issues, centred around how the child will be able to return to the UK. It may be possible to apply for a UK passport for the child, and this may seem the most straightforward option. Indeed, it is, but it will depend on the surrogate mother being unmarried, and the intended father not only being British, but also having a genetic connection to the child.
If it is not possible to apply directly for a British passport for the child concerned, it may be possible to register the child as British and then apply for a British passport. Again, this is not as straightforward as it might seem – not least because whether the registration will be granted is a matter of discretion for the Home Office. It’s therefore vital to make sure that the application for registration is comprehensive. Using the best London Family Solicitors possible is advisable to ensure that nothing is missed.
If neither parent has a genetic connection to the child, the only option may be to apply for a non-British passport for the child, and then apply for a visa for the child to come to the UK with the intended parents. Which visa is appropriate will depend very much on the intended parents’ circumstances – again, expert legal advice is essential to make sure that the eventual application has the best chance of success.
Other challenges of inter-country surrogacy
The laws governing surrogacy abroad
The UK’s surrogacy laws are clear on a number of matters, including that a surrogacy agreement cannot be a commercial arrangement, and parental responsibility. A couple seeking a surrogate abroad needs to be careful to understand the surrogacy laws of the country where the surrogate mother resides – and to check that surrogacy is even legal. Failing to abide by the surrogacy laws of the country concerned could lead to huge complications for the intended parents.
Establishing parental responsibility
An issue for parents using a surrogate in the UK as well as those considering inter-country surrogacy, it is important to understand how you will establish parental responsibility for the child concerned. Under UK surrogacy laws, the intended parents do not automatically obtain parental responsibility for the child – this remains with the surrogate mother, and potentially her partner, until the intended parent or parents obtain a parental order, or in the case of a single parent, through adoption or other court order.
Avoiding the pitfalls of inter-country surrogacy
Given the challenges of inter-country surrogacy, what advice can a London family solicitor give a couple considering this route to parenthood? The key to any successful surrogacy arrangement is meticulous planning. From the moment inter-country surrogacy becomes a serious consideration, it’s vital to work with people who can help, including an expert Immigration and family lawyer who can make sure the Immigration aspects of the surrogacy are covered.
OTS Solicitors are committed and experienced family lawyers and come highly recommended for Immigration law in the Legal 500. We can deal sensitively, and confidentially with all aspects of your surrogacy arrangement whether within the UK, or whether you are considering an inter-country surrogacy agreement, including all Immigration issues. We can also advise on the steps to take to obtain a parental order and finalise parental responsibility for the child. To book an appointment to discuss your situation, and your route to parenthood, please call 0203 959 9123.