Modern Families and Surrogacy Arrangements – Part 3
Once the criteria are fulfilled the Court will look at whether the making of the Order is in the child’s best interests. Many IP(s) conduct the parental application themselves but some choose to be represented as it involves Court hearings. The process of applying for a parental order usually takes 6-12 months and the steps are as follows:
- IP(s) must register the birth by sending Form C51 and the birth certificate to the local Family Court and the court fee of £215. It is not necessary to wait the six weeks for the surrogate to consent.
NB: Due to delays with registering births during the pandemic, the Courts have confirmed parental order applications can be made without birth certificates so long as they are filed before the making of the parental order.
- Once the Court application is made, CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) will appoint a social worker within 2-5 days of receipt to act as the “parental order reporter”.
- The CAFCASS officer will represent the child’s interests and make independent inquiries with the parents to decide if the order should be granted. They will also ensure that the surrogate consents.
- CAFCASS will then produce a parental order report. It will take around 8-12 weeks to get to this stage.
- There are usually two hearings, a directions hearing and a final hearing. The parents are asked to produce a statement setting out why they meet the parental order criteria after the directions hearing. However, the hearings can be combined in straightforward cases if directions can be dealt with in writing. Alternatively, there can be more than one directions hearing if there are complexities to the case.
- If the case is straightforward, it can be approved by a magistrate. The more high-profile matters that are heard in the High Court and involve cases that do not meet the criteria or have an international element.
- Once the Order is made it is sent to the General Register Office (GRO) so that they can enter the new details on the Parental Order Register. The process is the same wherever the child was born but the GRO will write to the local Register Office and ask them to log that this birth is “Re-registered by the Registrar General”.
- The GRO will then write to the IP(s) to inform them that they can apply for a new birth certificate.
The law of surrogacy is under review by the Law Commission and in 2019 a consultation paper was published. The report contained many recommendations which included that Court proceedings should be abolished for domestic surrogacy arrangements. However, international cases will still need to be approved by the High Court to guard against the risk of Human Trafficking.
The full article is published in New Law Journal. To read the full article, please click here.
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