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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'.

30 August 2011 - by Daniel Malynn 
The documentary 'I'm Pregnant with Their Baby' shows three women's experience of UK surrogacy. They are among a rare group who became surrogate mothers for altruistic reasons...
14 February 2011 - by Natalie Gamble and Louisa Ghevaert 
Surrogacy has been around for many years and disputes rarely arise. There have only been a handful of published cases in the English courts where a surrogacy arrangement has gone wrong. However, the recently published case of TT (a Minor) (1) received national press and radio coverage, focusing on Mr Justice Baker's warning about the inherent risks of surrogacy, awarding care of the baby to the surrogate mother and yet again putting surrogacy in the media spotlight...
10 January 2011 - by Louisa Ghevaert 
International surrogacy has become big news. Last month, a landmark international commercial surrogacy case, Re L, attracted front page national headlines. Hard on its heels the media spotlight fell on the birth of Elton John and David Furnish's US surrogate born son, Zachary, on Christmas Day. This has fuelled the debate about surrogacy and the question is why has it generated such attention?...
10 January 2011 - by Harriet Vickers 
The UK's first centre to advise same-sex couples wanting to have children will open later this month. Tony and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow will run the British Surrogacy Centre in Essex to guide couples through the surrogacy process...
7 February 2010 - by Dr Sophie Pryor 
The Court of Appeals in Indiana, US, is to decide who is the legal mother of an 11-month old baby boy conceived by IVF and born to a surrogate. The boy's genetic parents, known in court records as T.G. and V.G, are a married couple from northern Indiana. The birth mother is the wife's sister, who agreed to carry the baby for the couple. The boy's father's name is listed on his birth certificate but his mother's name will not be added unti...
29 October 2009 - by Nishat Hyder 
Following new UK government guidelines on surrogacy published last month aimed at improving the rights of surrogacy patients, Ministers are now facing a new legal challenge calling for further changes in the law....
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