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Have you watched the latest BBC documentary The Surrogates about the world of surrogacy in the UK? The documentary explores the highs and lows of surrogacy through the lives of five women and the future parents.

If you have watched the documentary you might have been wondering about the laws surrounding surrogacy. The legal aspect of surrogacy can be very complex. Let us explain a bit more about the current laws:

Is surrogacy legal in the UK? And what are the laws?

Surrogacy is legal in the UK, but if you want to make a surrogacy agreement it cannot be enforced but the law.

Intended parents and the surrogate can record how they want the arrangements to work in a surrogacy agreement, but it won’t be enforceable by UK law.

According to UK law, the woman who gives birth to the baby is the legal mother, and if she is married or in a civil partnership, her partner is the other legal parent. But, legal parenthood can be transferred by parental order or adoption after the child is born.

In the case of a disagreement about who the child’s legal parents should be, the courts will decide based on the best interests of the child.

Is it illegal for a surrogate to be paid in the UK?

Surrogacy cannot be marketed, meaning that women can not be paid to be your surrogate, or surrogacy cannot be advertised as a service by agencies.

In the US, surrogates can get up to $60,000 compensation, plus their expenses, but under UK law you cannot pay a surrogate, except for their reasonable expenses.

Although it is illegal for anyone to make a profit from surrogacy, surrogates and parents can agree on anything they want between them without breaking the law and as mentioned above, pregnancy-related expenses can be reimbursed by the intended parents.

Changing surrogacy laws

At present surrogacy laws can make the process a bit uncertain for prospective parents and surrogates alike. In 2019, the law changed to allow single parents to apply for a parental order. There have been more advances for reform and the final recommendations, and a draft bill is expected by early 2022.


If you need advice on your personal circumstances our team can help you in all areas of family law, including adoption and parental orders.