Advances in fertility technology and developments in society are changing the way we think about the structure of families and what constitutes “family” both on a human and legal level. Our specialist fertility and adoption lawyers have wide-ranging experience helping clients navigate the adoption process, as well as advising on all aspects of surrogacy and fertility law.
Whether you wish to adopt from abroad, adopt your step-child or another child in the UK, or you are considering surrogacy or fertility treatment, our specialist family lawyers take a sensitive and compassionate approach in this ever changing area of law.
We provide support and guidance at every stage, including:
- Adoptions of step-children, siblings and children in care
- LGBTQ adoption
- Single parent adoption
- International adoption
- Fostering to adopt
- Issues which arise post-adoption
- Assisted conception, including IUI, IVF, and egg and sperm donation
- Special Guardianship Orders
The legal process of adoption will vary depending on the individual circumstances of your case (for example, adopting a step-child is very different to adopting a child from abroad).
Before committing to adoption, it is important to explore the procedure and legal outcome including what will be required of you as a potential adoptive parent. We can provide pre-adoption advice at this stage, including helping you decide whether adoption is right for you and your family, advising on the various options and procedures and liaising with adoption agencies.
A child may come to a family for adoption in a variety of ways. These can include being the step-child of one parent, through the local authority or having been adopted abroad.
The final step of adoption in the UK and the vital step to recognise you in law as that child’s parent(s) is the adoption order. A child must live with you for a prescribed amount of time before you are able to apply for an adoption, and this time period depends on the type of adoption, for example:
- Children placed by agencies and local authorities – 10 weeks
- Fostering to adopt – 1 year
- Step parent adoptions – 6 months
- Overseas adoption – 6 months
Surrogacy is legal in the UK (although apart from reimbursing expenses, a surrogate cannot be paid), however, under current UK law, the legal parents of a child are the woman who gives birth and their spouse or civil partner (unless they do not consent).
Legal parenthood can be transferred to the intended parents via a parental order or adoption after the baby is born. Therefore, surrogacy agreements are often used to set out the intended agreement with the surrogate. Prospective parents should be aware that surrogacy agreements are not legally enforceable in the UK and if there is a dispute with the surrogate or her spouse, the courts will only ever make a decision based on the best interests of the child.
It is therefore crucial to consult specialist family law solicitors before embarking upon surrogacy, for clear, practical advice about your options and the process of applying to be legally recognised as the child’s parent(s).
We can give advice on the legal rules and structures which exist to help both single parents and couples expand their families using assisted conception.
The law as to who is recognised in law as a child’s parent, when they have been conceived using assisted reproduction, is complicated and ever advancing. As medical science has progressed in this area, the law has had to adapt rapidly and often as a result of an individual case raising new and unique questions to be resolved.
We ensure that our specialist family solicitors are at the forefront of industry knowledge to ensure we give you the accurate, high-quality advice and the best possible chance of avoiding any issues as you pursue fertility treatment. Our wide-ranging expertise includes:
- Donor conception – the process of conceiving a child using donated sperm or eggs
- Embryo donation – this is where the intended parents require both a donor egg and sperm.
- Co-parenting – it is becoming increasingly common for single men and women to choose to have a child together. We can help co-parents enter into co-parenting agreements to set out important matters such as who will have parental responsibility and arrangements for the child including where they will live and when they will spend time with each of their parents.