International Surrogacy

International Surrogacy Solicitors

It is increasingly common for couples to start or grow their families through surrogacy, including through international surrogacy. Data from the family courts shows there has been a 350% increase in applications from couples who wish to enter international surrogacy arrangements over the last decade. However, couples wishing to consider international surrogacy should be aware of the considerable legal difficulties they will face. 

The law is extremely complex when it comes to international surrogacy, and you will need to speak to a solicitor before determining whether this is the best option for you. Our international team has a wide experience with the complex issues you are likely to encounter, from dealing with immigration law to obtaining a parental order. 

Understanding Surrogacy Law

There is currently no international convention on the recognition of laws relating to surrogacy arrangements. Under English law, the ruling principle is mater semper certa est (the mother is always certain) – i.e., the woman who carries and gives birth to a child is recognised as the legal mother. If she is married, her husband at the time of conception will be recognised as the child’s legal father, regardless of whether this is genetically the case. It should also be noted that a child born through international surrogacy does not automatically acquire British citizenship.

Couples in the UK who wish to have a child through international surrogacy must apply for a parental order to be formally recognised as their child’s legal parents. Commercial surrogacy is not permitted in the UK, and English courts will seek to determine whether payments beyond “reasonable expenses” were made to your surrogate mother before granting a parental order. It is also illegal for third parties to profit from facilitating surrogacy arrangements, and you must be able to demonstrate that your chosen surrogate mother was not contractually bound to give up her child.

A thumbnail with bio photo of John Randle, Head of Family Law practice at McAllister Olivarius, and a badge he receives from being ranked in the 2024 Chambers and Partners.
John Randle, Senior Counsel and Head of Family Practice

Why McAllister Olivarius?

Experienced Team

Our practice is led by John Randle, a specialist in family law with nearly 40 years’ experience. John typically acts for high-net-worth individuals, from prominent businesspeople to household names in the world of sport. His clients have included British Olympians, Premier League footballers, international rugby players and others.

John is recognised by leading directories for his skill in dealing with a full range of divorce matters, including matrimonial finance, the division of business assets, and complex private child law issues such as international surrogacy, international adoption and special guardianship applications.

Over his many years in law, John has represented and advised thousands of clients facing divorce. He has acted in significant settlements, including complex prenuptial arrangements worth tens of millions of pounds.

Unparalleled Experience, Meticulous Approach

We understand the financial and emotional intricacies of the divorce process and will find a way to protect your interests while considering the well-being of you and your children.

Whatever your circumstances, our meticulous approach will help you reach a fair and favourable settlement.

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What are the grounds for divorce in England and Wales?

As of April 6, 2022, there has been no need to specify grounds for divorce in the England and Wales beyond the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. The no-fault divorce rule allows married persons or civil partners to apply for a divorce without the need to identify bad behaviour or prove fault on the part of their spouse.

Divorcing couples can file for divorce by citing the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage. This is done by submitting a sole or joint application under which both parties agree to dissolve their relationship. If only one party wishes to file for divorce, they may submit a sole application which can no longer be contested by the other party, save for rare technical legal grounds such as legality or jurisdiction of marriage.

However, a no-fault divorce only ends your marriage. It does not address complexities that are likely to arise from the division of finances, assets and property. What happens to the matrimonial home? If the home is sold, how should the proceeds be divided? When should spousal maintenance be paid, for how long and how much? Should any pensions be shared? If so, how? For divorcing parents, it will be necessary to establish who the children will live with, how much time they will spend with the other parent and when.

These are typically very challenging questions that can have a big impact on both partners’ lives. Contact us if you would like to discuss any of the above issues in confidence with one of our solicitors.

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What are the alternatives to divorce?

If you feel your marriage has irretrievably broken down but are not ready to commit to divorce proceedings, a legal separation can offer you the time and space to decide what’s right for you. A legal separation does not end your marriage. You and your spouse will be recognised as legally married, and you will retain some of the legal benefits to which married couples are entitled.

Often, couples use legal separation to determine whether divorce is really the right decision. Legally separating couples will have to deal with the same issues as divorcing couples, from the division of assets and debts to parenting and childcare rights and responsibilities. However, any such agreement that is formalised in a separation agreement can be carried over if you do decide to get divorced.

If you would like to discuss whether legal separation is right for you or have questions about financial or parental issues related to a legal separation, contacts us now for a free initial consultation.

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Meet Our Divorce & Family Law Team in Maidenhead