A couple who entered into an informal surrogacy agreement with a friend have found themselves in court.
A woman who was unable to have children agreed with a friend to use her husband’s sperm to artificially inseminate her friend at home. It was agreed that the friend would then give the child to the couple after the birth.
However, the situation went badly wrong when the child was only a few months old and the couple decided to divorce. The woman soon discovered that legally she had no parental rights over the child as she was not his biological or legal mother.
The complicated situation was resolved this week when the judge, Mrs Justice King, directed that the little boy should remain a ward of court indefinitely and made a shared residence order in favour of the former couple, effectively granting the woman parental responsibility for the child.
The surrogate mother was banned from exercising her parental rights without permission from the court.
The judge explained that there was no hope of the woman adopting the child and that the current situation would best meet the needs of the child and the parents involved. Although the orders mean that the woman will never be the child’s legal mother, Mrs Justice King said the orders put in place aimed to ‘provide her with security and recognition of her status’.
The judge spoke strongly about the legal problems that can arise if couples chose to enter into an informal surrogacy agreement in private.
Legally recognised, formal surrogacy agreements can be entered into by using licensed and registered fertility clinics. Using these legally recognised channels can avoid the ‘real dangers’ encountered by the couple in this case.