Written by Andrew Spearman & Katherine Martyn
“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t entertain the idea of me being a dad. My whole life’s been pointing to this”. As many of you may have already heard, these are the words of David, an Intended Parent (“IP”) embarking on his surrogacy journey as aired by BBC Three’s documentary “The Surrogates”.
Although David’s journey to becoming a father actually started many years before (as documented in the show), the surrogacy route only became an option for David to pursue a couple of years ago. While you may find this archaic, until 2019 single people could not pursue surrogacy and be named as a sole legal parent; the law stated that intended parents must be in a couple, i.e., in a marriage, civil partnership or living as partners in an enduring family relationship, rendering surrogacy an impossible route to go down for those wishing to have a child through surrogacy on their own and be named as the sole legal parent.
So when did the law change? On 1 January 2019 this long awaited change in the law came into play allowing single IPs to use a surrogate to have a child. In fact, David, as mentioned above, was one of the first single fathers to take advantage of this change. He is certainly not the last though. Since then, there has been a boom in single parent surrogacy journeys. Surrogacy UK reported a huge increase in single parents becoming members, especially single men wishing to become fathers.
The law is almost always playing catch up to modern times and thinking. For many years, marriage underpinned many important provisions in law and who can forget the discussions around civil partnerships in 2004 and then Same Sex Marriage debates? For surrogacy, this traditional thinking still impacts us further as the surrogate who carries the child, whether genetically linked or not, is automatically named as the legal parent at birth and their spouse or civil partner (if they have one) will be the child’s second parent at birth. Simply by virtue of the surrogate’s relationship status is that individual granted parental rights. Parental Order applications are just as vital to legal parentage being transferred from the surrogate and her spouse or civil partner to the IP.
Single parent surrogacy journeys resulting in legal parentage are only a relatively recent change but one to be greatly celebrated. If you are thinking of embarking on a single parent surrogacy journey or have already started and would like to have a chat, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Laytons LLP via email or 020 7842 8000. We would love to hear from you.