Putting children and young people first in the family courts


Become the legal parent of a child born through surrogacy


In order to become the legal parent of a child born through surrogacy you need to apply for a parental order. Without a parental order you or your partner may not be 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

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


Why getting a parental order was important for Ben’s family


Ben and his partner Lee used a surrogate to help them start their family. Ben explains how having a parental order means that both he and Lee can make important decisions for their daughter, Eleanor.


Julian and Warren explain what having a parental order means for them and Alexia


Julian and Warren also started their family through surrogacy. Here they explain what impact having a parental order has had on raising their daughter Alexia, and what it means for the future. 


How to apply for a parental order


It is recommended that you seek legal advice before applying for a parental order, if you have not done so already.

You should apply for a parental order within six months of your child being born. If you miss this deadline, we recommend you seek legal advice. There have been cases where the court has extended this deadline, and the court's primary consideration will be the welfare of the child.

You can apply by completing a C51 court form. This can be found at www.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk.

You should then submit the completed form to your local family court, along with: 

    • an extra copy of the form for the surrogate and one for her partner, if she has one

    • a copy of your child’s birth certificate

    • your marriage or civil partnership certificate (if you have one)

  • a cheque for the court fee, made payable to HMCTS.



Advice on preparing a parental order application


It’s a busy time with a new born baby – hear what Ben and his partner Lee did to help prepare their parental order application.


Advice on the documentation you will need


Parental Order Reporter Angela gives advice on what records and documentation you should collect during your surrogacy journey, to help when it comes to making a parental order application. 



Who can apply for a parental order 


Only couples can apply for a parental order. They must be married, in a civil partnership, or in an 'enduring family relationship'.

Once you apply, a number of further conditions must be met before the court will make a parental order, including: 

    • either you or your partner is ‘domiciled’ in the UK

    • you are living with the child at the time of the application

    • conception has taken place artificially and the child is genetically related to you or your partner, or both

  • no money has been exchanged, other than ‘reasonable expenses’, or the court is prepared to authorise any compensation you have paid (for example if your surrogacy took place overseas).

If you have any questions regarding the conditions, we recommend you seek legal advice. The court will make its decision based on the welfare of the child throughout their life.


Pre-birth contracts


If you have a pre-birth contract or agreement with the surrogate you will still need to apply for a parental order. This is because under UK law, any contracts or agreements signed before the child is born are not enforceable.


Using a surrogate from abroad


The law in England can still apply even if the surrogacy took place in another country. This means that you and your partner must obtain a parental order to be considered the legal parents in the UK

You can find guidance on international surrogacy in the UK Border Agency's Inter-country surrogacy leaflet.


What happens after you apply for a parental order


Once your application for a parental order has been made, a Cafcass worker known as a Parental Order Reporter will be appointed. They will help the court to decide whether or not the parental order is in the child’s best interest.  Find out more about Parental Order Reporters.


Speaking to your child about their origins 


It is also important to begin thinking about how you will make sure that your child grows up familiar and secure with their origins and identity. Find out how to speak to your child about surrogacy.


If you have concerns about not meeting the parental order criteria


Parental Order Reporter Angela talks about what parents should do if they are worried that they have not met the criteria for making a parental order application. 

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