Each week that goes by there are stories in the press about surrogacy. The latest celebrity to disclose having a child by surrogacy is Amber Heard. In "Soapland", many will have seen the story unfolding of Bernie in EastEnders accepting a payment of £10,000 to be a surrogate. 

Surrogacy enables a couple or individual to have a child where otherwise they couldn't whether that is due to medical reasons, being in a same sex relationship, LGBT+ parents wanting to create a family or individuals.

It is important to distinguish between "Soapland" and reality. Surrogacy in the UK is regulated and laws set out what is and isn't permitted. Bernie's payment of £10,000 in EastEnders for example is not permitted. A surrogate cannot be paid for having a baby. A surrogate can however, have their reasonable expenses, such as medical fees, paid for. Surrogacy agreements, whether in writing or verbal, are not legally binding and so if either party decides to step away from the arrangement the other party cannot enforce the agreement in law. So, for example, if the intended parents Ranie and Stuart in EastEnders don't pay Bernie, she will not be able to legally enforce the agreement against them.

The baby is the legal child of the surrogate at birth. For the baby to become the legal child of the intended parent(s) an application to the court for a Parental Order has to be made. Once the court grants a Parental Order the child becomes the legal child of the intended parents and the surrogate loses all rights in relation to the baby. 

In the majority of cases where the surrogate and intended parent(s) follow the regulations and guidance the journey to the birth of the baby and thereafter is a smooth and joyous process for all involved in the arrangements.

It is not generally recommended that private arrangements are entered into. There are a number of surrogacy organisations in the UK that can help people through the process.

If you are thinking about surrogacy, early advice is important. Ince is able to provide you with expert advice and representation to those either wanting to become parents through surrogacy or are considering becoming a surrogate. Early advice minimises the risk of something going wrong with the surrogacy arrangements.