Law change helps gay dads of surrogate children

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A change in the law from next week means that gay male couples will find it easier to be recognised as the parents of children born to surrogate mothers.

Currently, only heterosexual married parents of children born to a surrogate mother can obtain a parental order making them legal parents of such children but the change on April 6th gives this right to gay couples.

Gay male couples can already have children through surrogates and go through the lengthy adoption process but the change will make it easier and faster for them. It also applies to opposite-sex unmarried couples.

Parental orders remove the parental status of surrogate mothers and will mean that gay male couples and straight unmarried couples can then acquire a birth certificate for their child naming them both as parents.

Couples must apply to a family court for parental order and the court will rule on whether they are fit to be parents. Single men remain ineligible from the new laws.

Jonathan Finney, Stonewall’s head of external affairs, said: “We’re delighted that the reality of people’s families is finally being recognised at last, that lesbian and gay couples no longer have to go through the adoption process in order to be recognised as their child’s legal parents.

“The latest changes are sensible and fair.”

In order to acquire a parental order, couples must be in a stable relationship, over 18 and be applying within six months of a child’s birth.

One of the men must be the child’s biological father and the surrogate mother and her husband or civil partner must consent to order being made.

The change is the final piece of legislation to be implemented from the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

The first allowed allowed lesbians whose partners had IVF to be named on birth certificates and the second removed the ‘need for a father’ restriction on lesbians seeking fertility treatment.

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