Richard Perrins - Partner, Coles Miller

Disputed Surrogacy Case Highlights The Uncertainty Of Informal Parenting Arrangements18th May 2015

Sadly, there is nothing unusual these days about a one-year-old baby being at the centre of a custody dispute.Richard Perrins - Partner, Coles Miller

But when one party is a surrogate mother and the other is a gay dad (and his same sex partner), the case makes national headlines.

It was a case which Coles Miller’s new family solicitor Richard Perrins followed closely, having been involved with it from the beginning at his former firm.

As a family solicitor who specialises in same sex family disputes and fertility cases, Richard highlights how the case provides important legal lessons – and not just for surrogates and same sex couples.

It is estimated that around 2,000 children are born to surrogate mothers every year. But how many families look to have an agreement drawn up first?

Although surrogacy disputes are incredibly rare, without an agreement in place, any informal surrogacy arrangement can easily fall victim to an emotional last minute U-turn by either side.

The legal framework in England and Wales does not recognise surrogacy agreements as legally binding. However, they can still be a very useful tool in identifying the expectations of all the people involved.

What does this have to do with other couples who are not contemplating surrogacy?

Plenty – because a similar situation exists around pre-nuptial agreements. Again, they are not legally binding but courts are taking increasing notice of them.

Pre-nups may not be the most romantic of gestures but in today’s uncertain world there is an argument for being cautious and thinking about what might happen when the last of the confetti has blown away.

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For specialist legal advice on fertility law, surrogacy and dissolution of civil partnerships, contact Coles Miller solicitor and mediator Richard Perrins, 01202 694891.