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Surrogacy: How to begin your journey

Surrogacy. It's emotional, fraught and legally complex. But for people who are unable to start a family the traditional way, it can be their only option. Victoria Maxwell, a solicitor in the Forming Families team at Bishop and Sewell talks us through the legal side of it.

The Covid pandemic has certainly given people plenty of time to re-evaluate their lives. And for many, that means deciding to start a family.

But it’s not always that simple.

More and more women are having children later in life, and fertility clinics throughout the world have reported a huge demand for IVF treatment and fertility solutions, for both men and women.

Professionals in the fertility sector have reported a sharp increase in enquiries about egg freezing and fertility treatment since the pandemic began, with inquiries at a clinic in Cheshire increasing by 25% according to a recent ITV report.

The Forming Families team at law firm, Bishop and Sewell has been in much demand in recently years – specifically to manage the complexities of overseas surrogacy and helping families who have been unable to start their family.

Victoria Maxwell says that most of their clients who are looking at starting their surrogacy journey, do so overseas due to the limitations of the law surrounding surrogacy in the UK. Any form of commercial surrogacy is prohibited under English Law.

In England and Wales, you are not allowed to pay a surrogate any compensation beyond reasonable expenses.

There are also strict limitations on advertising or arranging a surrogacy agreement and charging a fee, under English Law. This means that people turn instead to the United States or the Ukraine, where commercial surrogacy is legal.

If surrogacy is something you’re considering, it’s sensible to make sure you know where you stand legally – so seek professional advice if you have any questions.

With international surrogacy, legal parentage is an important factor to understand. When the surrogate gives birth, she will be considered to be the legal mother in the yes of the English court, regardless of the domestic law in the country in which the agreement took place.

The Forming Families team at Bishop & Sewell LLP can help with the legal parentage issues associated with international surrogacy and the immigration department can assist you to bring your baby home. It is important that intended parents obtain the necessary advice from the outset, so they understand the legal implications and required steps they will have to take, before they embark on their journey.

Bishop & Sewell is a long-established, full service law firm – with an international reach – specialising in Personal, Property and Commercial legal matters.

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