Single parents can now apply for a parental order but depending on your circumstances you might need to act quickly

10 Jan 2019

From 3 January 2019, single parents who have had a child born through surrogacy are able to apply for a parental order in the UK, finally providing them with legal parent status.

Single parents who already have children by surrogacy have until 2 July 2019 to now make an application, regardless of the age of their children.

Until now, only couples have been able to apply for a parental order, however The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 2008 (Remedial) Order 2018 has now come in to force, enabling single parents to also apply to become legal parents.

A parental order is crucial if you have a child with the assistance of a surrogate, as under the law in England and Wales, the person that carries the child is deemed the legal mother, regardless of whether there is a biological link or not. Also, if the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership then her husband/partner is deemed the second legal parent, regardless of whether the intended parent(s) own eggs and/or sperm were used. Therefore, steps need to be taken after the birth to ensure the intended parent(s) obtain legal parent status and all the rights and responsibilities that go with it.

A parental order must be applied for by the intended parent(s) within six months of the birth of the child. Once issued it will extinguish the status of the surrogate, and her partner if she has one, and the child will be issued with a new birth certificate naming the intended parent(s) as the child’s parent(s). The parental order is therefore key to secure a new family, as without it, the parent(s) raising the child will not be the legal parents.

The recent change to the law recognises that there will be single parents in the UK that already have a child conceived through surrogacy and so they have until 2 July 2019 to make their application. After this date, the 6 month rule will apply and older children may not be eligible for a parental order. It should be noted that whilst the law requires an application to be made within 6 months of the child birth, there have been cases where this requirement has been applied less stringently. However, we can’t stress enough that the application will be significantly more complex after six months have lapsed and will require a very good reason as to why the application was not made sooner.

We therefore encourage anyone who has had a child through surrogacy in the past, whether in the UK or abroad, and does not yet have a parental order to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Our Family Law solicitors are among the best in the South. If you have a legal matter that requires the expertise of one of our family lawyers, contact us today on 0800 2800 421. We have law offices in Salisbury, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Winchester to meet your requirements.