Rights for surrogate mothers

Surrogates are the legal mother of any child they carry, unless they sign a parental order after they give birth transferring their rights to the intended parents.

Mother’s rights

The woman who gives birth is always treated as the legal mother and has the right to keep the child - even if they’re not genetically related.

Surrogacy contracts aren’t enforced by UK law, even if a contract has been signed with the intended parents and they’ve paid for any 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’ is the surrogate’s husband or civil partner unless:

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

If a 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.

Maternity leave

Every pregnant employee has the right to 52 weeks’ maternity leave and to return to their job after this.

What a birth mother does after the child is born has no impact on her right to maternity leave.

Surrogacy laws are very complicated. Find out more about surrogacy on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority website or talk to a lawyer.