Fertility law and new families (surrogacy/conception agreements/adoption)

As modern families change, so too do the ways in which families are created. We are able to assist with all the legal complexities that accompany these processes.

Surrogacy (whereby a woman carries a child for someone else with the intention of handing the child over at birth) is a complex area of the law and it is advisable to seek legal advice at an early stage. We have developed a particular expertise in this area and acted in the case of DM and LK, Re [2016] EWHC 270 (Fam) (Howard Kennedy surrogacy case highlights need for further reform). Our role in these matters is to facilitate and simplify the process for our clients who, as commissioning parents, may be a heterosexual or same sex couple. We also have experience of acting for the surrogate in situations where regrettably issues arise in the relationship with the commissioning couple. There is an increasingly international element to surrogacy arrangements as more and more couples choose to use a surrogate abroad whether for reasons of price or convenience, and clients benefit from the immigration advice that we can provide (Antonia Torr) and from our relationships with law firms overseas.

Conception Agreements are useful in situations where people who are not in a relationship with each other (and who may even be in relationships with other people) intend to have a child together. The process of drafting a conception agreement means that parties are given an opportunity to properly consider their intentions and those of the other parents at an early stage, helping to avoid issues only coming to light after the child is born when such conflict can be far more raw and emotional. We have acted for clients in drafting conception agreements, and for clients in assisting them with the fallout of basic misunderstandings about the parties' intentions in relation to who would be caring for the child.

Adoption often involves children who have experienced trauma and emotional harm that no child should ever have to face.  Adoptive parents can provide lifelines to such children, and offer them the security of the loving family environment that every child deserves. As with surrogacy, adoption is a complex and specialist area, and we are able to assist in all types of private law cases, including adoption by step-parents (both heterosexual and same sex) and relatives, as well as international adoptions.

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Lois Langton

Lois Langton : Partner