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Parental Orders (Surrogacy)

Surrogacy is when a woman (the ‘surrogate’) carries a child for another person or couple (referred to in this section as ‘intended parent/s’) where the intention prior to conception is that the child will be raised by the intended parent/s. The surrogate may use her own eggs and therefore be the genetic mother, which is known as ’traditional surrogacy’ or the pregnancy may be achieved via fertility clinic and donor eggs may be used, known as ‘gestational surrogacy’.   

Domestic surrogacy arrangements are where all aspects of conception and birth take place within the UK. International surrogacy arrangements are where conception and/or birth take place overseas and additional information about international arrangements can be found at Surrogacy overseas - GOV.UK ( Matters where there is an international element are usually heard in the High Court.       

The Law Commission of England and Wales has recently published its joint report with the Scottish Law Commission, outlining recommendations for a robust new system to govern surrogacy, which they intend will work better for children, surrogates and intended parents.  They published the final report alongside the draft Bill on 29 March 2023 Surrogacy - Law Commission.  

Parental Orders

  • If you have a child through surrogacy, you as the intended parent/s will need to apply to the court for a Parental Order. This transfers legal parenthood from the surrogate (and her spouse or civil partner if she has one) to you. 

  • This is an important process because without a parental order you and/or your partner may not be considered your child’s legal parent in the UK. This means that you may: 

  • not have the authority to make decisions about your child’s education and medical care; 

  • face legal complications should you and your partner separate or divorce; and 

  • need to find and involve the surrogate in future decisions involving your child. 

A Parental Order gives you full legal parenthood and parental responsibility in much the same way as adoption, but it is usually a much simpler process.

The Parental Order process


The court will ask us to provide a Parental Order Reporter to help it make a decision on the Parental Order application.  Parental Order Reporters work for us and are qualified social workers who represent the interests of children involved in family courts. 

The Parental Order Reporter’s role is to consider the child’s best interests and to look at your family’s circumstances in line with the Parental Order criteria.  

The Parental Order Reporter will usually arrange to meet with you, see you with your child, and ensure that the surrogate freely consents to the application. This work typically takes between eight to twelve weeks. 

Parental Order Reporters have a duty to contact or interview those people they think appropriate or as the court directs and to advise the court on the available options for your child. They may make checks with the local authority and the police, to see if there is any information held which might be relevant to the safety of your child. The welfare of the child(ren) throughout their life is the court’s paramount consideration in Parental Order applications.   

The Parental Order Reporter will then provide a ‘Parental Order Report’ before the final hearing which will recommend whether a Parental Order should be made.  Your Parental Order report will be sent to the court, and, with the permission of the court, the Reporter can also share the report with you in advance. 

Talking to your child about surrogacy