New legislation allowing same-sex couples to become the legal parents of children born following IVF or surrogacy will come into force next week. The law change will mean couples no longer need to be married to be named on their child’s birth certificate and is intended to afford unmarried and same-sex couples the same rights to legal parenthood as married heterosexual couples. It forms the final stage of the implementation of the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.
Natalie Gamble, of the fertility law firm Gamble and Ghevaert, said that the new law would help ensure equality for same-sex parents. ‘These changes bring the law up to date with the realities of modern 21st-century life and recognise that increasing numbers of same-sex and unmarried couples are having children together’, she told the Guardian.
Previously, the woman who carried the child was automatically considered to be the legal parent. This meant that lesbian and gay couples would have to undergo a lengthy adoption process to become the legal parents of a child born following surrogacy.
The new law addresses this problem by allowing couples to obtain a parental order in court after the birth, regardless of their sexual orientation. Requirements for obtaining a parental order include that couple are in a stable relationship, have a biological link to the child, have entered into a surrogacy agreement without payment beyond expenses, and are acting in the interests of the child. If all the conditions are met, a parental order will be issued allowing both intended parents to be named on the birth certificate, and making them legally and financially responsible for their child. The child will be able to trace their biological mother when they reach 18 if they wish, but the names of their legal guardians will be listed on the birth certificate
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