Surrogacy: legal rights of parents and surrogates


If you use a surrogate they will be the legal mother of any child they carry.

Mother’s rights

The woman who gives birth is always treated as the mother in UK law and has the right to keep the child - even if they’re not genetically related. However, parenthood can be transferred by parental order or adoption.

Surrogacy contracts are not enforced by UK law, even if you’ve a signed deal with your surrogate and have paid for her expenses.

It’s illegal to pay a surrogate in the UK, except for their reasonable expenses.

Father’s rights

The child’s legal father or ‘second parent’ will be the surrogate’s husband or partner unless:

  • legal rights are given to someone else through a parental order or adoption
  • the surrogate’s husband or civil partner did not give their permission to their wife or partner

If your surrogate has no partner, or they’re unmarried and not in a civil partnership, the child will have no legal father or second parent unless the partner actively consents.

Read ‘The Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985’ for more information about surrogacy laws.