The draft remedial order which will change the law to allow single parents through surrogacy to apply for parental orders has gone back to Parliament for a second time.
When will the law change?
It will now be considered by the Parliamentary Committee for its second required 60 day period and, after a Parliamentary debate to approve it, the law change will come into force 14 days later. Barring any complications (such as unexpected general elections) that puts the expected date of law change somewhere at the end of January 2019.
Can single parents then apply for a parental order?
Single biological parents who already have a child through surrogacy will then have six months to apply for a parental order giving them a UK birth certificate and making them their child’s sole legal parent.
We are following up with single mums and dads we have worked with since 2008 who are eagerly awaiting the law change to take effect. If you would like to be included in our list of people to be kept updated please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Although it will be possible to apply outside the six month window, applying in the expected timeframe will make things as easy as possible.
What is the background to this law change?
The court ruling which declared the law incompatible with the Human Rights Act was made over two years ago in May 2016. Declarations of incompatibility are rare and Parliament gives guidelines that the government is expected to remedy any breach with four months of a court ruling. We share the frustration of many single parents that this relatively simple law change is taking so long.
How we have stayed on the case
It is also important that the government gets it right. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights criticised the initial proposed draft of the new s54A for only allowing single parents to apply for parental orders if they were not married or living with a partner. This could have locked some biological parents permanently out of ever acquiring parenthood status of their own children. They would be unable to apply if their partner did not agree to becoming a legal parent too, even if the relationship was new or if they were separated and the partner had never been involved in the surrogacy. We raised our concern about this in a submission we were invited to give to the JCHR (having represented the single father in the original case) and so we are pleased to see it addressed both in their report and now in the government’s sensible decision to remove that discrimination. The revised draft law will allow all single biological parents to be recognised as the legal parents of their own children, and that is just how it should be.
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