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Surrogate mother who kept baby wins claim for support

18 April 2011
Appeared in BioNews 604

A couple must pay more than £500 monthly maintenance to a surrogate mother who decided to keep the baby. Baby T was born in July last year but the birth mother, an unmarried woman known as Miss N, who was acting as a surrogate for a couple known as Mr and Mrs W, refused to hand over the baby as agreed.

Mr and Mrs W entered into an informal agreement with Miss N after meeting her through a surrogacy website under which it was said they agreed to pay Miss N £10,000 in expenses. However, during the pregnancy, Miss N decided to keep the baby and refused to continue with the agreement.

Miss N was inseminated with Mr W's sperm and both Miss N and Mr W are considered to be the child's legal parents. Mr and Mrs W lost a custody battle after the birth of Baby T and relinquished their contact rights, arguing it would be unfair for the child to be split between two homes and such a relationship would be too emotionally distressing. Miss N was also allowed to keep £4,500 already paid to her by the couple.

The latest decision from the Child Support Agency, which the couple have said they plan to appeal, means that as the child's biological father, Mr W must pay £568 in child support every month. Commenting on the decision, Mr W said: 'If I need to pay £500 a month because otherwise the child will be living in poverty then that is another reason why the baby should be with us'.

Although surrogacy in the UK is lawful, surrogacy agreements, even those formalised in writing, are not enforceable in the courts. The legal mother of a child born to a surrogate is always the birth mother. This means that the commissioning parents of a surrogacy arrangement must apply for a parental order from the family courts to amend the birth certificate and be recognised as legal parents.

Mr W is now calling for a review of the laws on surrogacy, adding: 'I think this was about an income. I've written to my MP for a change in the law and we'll appeal'.

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