Unregistered surrogate children a ‘legal timebomb’ according to judge

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Mrs Justice Theis has warned that surrogate-born children who do not have the protection of parental orders run the risk of finding themselves ‘stateless and parent-less’.

Dame Theis spoke at a Surrogacy Symposium in London, telling the conference that parents who fail to obtain court-sanctioned parental orders in respect of children born through surrogacy agreements have created a ‘ticking legal timebomb’.

A parental order is required to transfer parental responsibility for the child from the surrogate mother to the commissioning parents. These orders extinguish the rights and responsibilities of the birth mother, and failure to obtain one means that the birth mother remains the true parent in the eyes of the law.

It is estimated that around 2,000 children are born each year by surrogate mothers before being handed over to British parents. However, Cafcass, the government’s child protection agency, confirmed that last year only 241 applications were made for parental orders.

Dame Theis further warned that unless the child’s status was registered it might not inherit from its new parents, and would retain a claim on the estate of the birth mother.

She added that obtaining a parental order is in the best interests of the child, and that:

“If no order is made, there is the psychological impact of [subsequently] discovering that the mother is not their [birth] mother. And there’s practical issues in terms of inheritance and other financial matters. The court’s paramount consideration is the child’s long-term welfare needs.”

To read more at The Guardian website.

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