Fertility lawyer welcomes change in surrogacy law

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A Dorset fertility lawyer has welcomed a change in the surrogacy law which will allow single people to apply for parental orders.

Suzi Denton, who heads up Ellis Jones’ fertility and surrogacy legal team, said she was “thrilled” at the reform.

She added: “This puts single parents who are growing their families through surrogacy on the same legal footing as those who are married, in civil partnerships or in long term relationships.

“It is great news not just for single parents but for everyone in the surrogacy community in the UK.”

Under UK law, the woman who gives birth to a child is automatically considered the child’s legal parent, no matter where in the world the child is born.

A parental order is the means by which legal parenthood is transferred from the surrogate (and her spouse or civil partner, if she has one) to the intended parent or parents.

Before the law change, the legislation that established parental orders – Section 54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 – only permitted couples to apply for orders, leaving the children born to single people in legal limbo.

This led Sir James Munby, then President of the Family Division of the High Court, to declare the law incompatible with human rights legislation in the case Re Z in 2016.

A remedial order was drafted and laid before Parliament in 2017 and after several revisions it was approved by both houses and signed by the minister in December, coming into force this month (January).

Suzi, who launched Ellis Jones’ new fertility and surrogacy service last October, said: “The reform is long overdue and very welcome.

“Although single people were able to have children through surrogacy before this change, the process for securing their legal parentage was much more complex.

“We are thrilled with this long-awaited news, and look forward to supporting many more single parents through the parental order process in the years to come.”