Adoption & Surrogacy Solicitors

They are simply excellent in their dynamic approach to family litigation, balancing tenaciousness with the sensitivity required in family law.

Legal 500, 2023

Adopting a child, or having a child via a surrogate, are wonderful and exciting life events. There are a number of legal issues to consider, but the impact of these can be reduced if you have a skilled legal team you can trust.

If you plan to adopt a child, you must meet certain criteria required by UK adoption agencies. If you are going to have a child via a surrogate, there are a range of conditions that have to be met in order to obtain a parental order from the court. Without this, you do not have legal rights over the child.

This can seem complicated, but our family law team has successfully dealt with many cases of adoption and surrogacy. We know how important this is to you, and we have the experience and expertise to help.

We will talk you through what you need to do to meet adoption requirements or obtain a parental order in a clear and transparent way. We will advise you at every stage of the process – making sure you understand and feel totally comfortable with each decision.

Whether you are just starting to try and bring a child into your family, or are having trouble negotiating the legal process, we can help. We have been accredited by independent legal guides Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500, and are widely considered to be one of the UK’s leading family law firms.

With offices in major cities around the country, you can get advice and guidance from pioneering solicitors who have challenged and changed the law, wherever and whenever you need it.

If you would like to talk to us about the adoption and surrogacy law services we offer, please do get in touch. You can call on 0370 1500 100 or contact us online and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Clare Wiseman
Clare Wiseman Family Partner and Head of International Family Law Meet the team

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Legal Rights Do I Have When I Adopt?

If you want to adopt, you must first apply through one of the UK's adoption agencies. If you are successful, you will get full legal and parental responsibilities over and to the child being adopted, similar to those of any biological parent.

Same-sex couples have the same rights as mixed-sex couples when it comes to adopting a child. Partners entering a relationship with an adoptive parent must apply for parental responsibility if they wish to share those rights.

If you or your partner isn't a British citizen, you can still adopt, although you must have a fixed or permanent home in the UK and must have lived in the UK for at least one year prior to making the application.

Adopting a child from abroad is possible, however, there are rules that must be followed:

  • The child being adopted is unable to be cared for in a safe environment in their own country
  • The adoption must be in the child's best interests
  • The individual or couple seeking to adopt must be assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from overseas by the relevant adoption agency.

We can help you with the adoption process – at home and internationally – and will guide you through fulfilling the important legal criteria.

If you have had problems adopting a child and would like to talk to a member of our legal team, please call us on 0370 1500 100 for an initial consultation. Alternatively please contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

What Can Be Done Legally To Protect Us If We Use A Surrogate Mother?

If you are having a child using a surrogate (also known as being an intended parent), you have no legal rights over the child until you obtain a parental order from the court. The surrogate mother is the legal parent until you are granted the order, as is their spouse or civil partner.

If the sperm of the intended father is used, and the embryo is created in England or Wales, he may have an automatic right as the child's legal parent.

These rules also apply similarly to overseas surrogates – if the intended parents and child will live in the UK, a parental order is needed.

Parental orders may be given to intended parents if they meet a range of criteria, including:

  • The conception must have taken place by embryo transfer or artificial insemination
  • The child must have been carried by a surrogate
  • One or both of the intended parents must be the child's biological parent
  • The intended parents must be married, civil partners or living together as partners in an enduring family relationship
  • The intended parents must submit the application for parental orders to the court within six months after the child is born (although in some cases this deadline may be extended)
  • The surrogate (and her spouse or civil partner, if she has one) must freely consent to the order. The surrogate cannot give valid consent until the baby is six weeks old.

There are also important considerations about money because a surrogate may not be paid except for reasonable expenses incurred.

Ensuring that you as an intended parent become a legal parent following a surrogacy arrangement can seem difficult and confusing, but our lawyers are here to help you and will dedicate themselves to ensuring you get the family life you want.

If you have any questions about our adoption and surrogacy services, call us on 0370 1500 100 today for a consultation with one of our expert solicitors. Alternatively, please contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

What's The Process For Adopting A Child?

You must apply to a UK adoption agency to adopt a child. This could be through your local council or a voluntary adoption agency.

You (and your partner, if you have one) will have to complete an initial application then meet with the agency to discuss it. They will do a police check and speak to the people you have put forward as your personal references, as well as arranging a full medical examination for you.

You are then assessed by an independent adoption panel, who will decide whether you can adopt a child. If successful, you will be referred to the relevant adoption service in England or Wales, who will find a child to match you with.

When a child has been found and has been living with you for at least 10 weeks, you will need to apply for an adoption court order. This makes the adoption permanent, and your rights as parent or parents to that child replace the rights of the birth parents. This means that you have legal parental responsibility for the child.

If you are adopting a child from abroad, the adoption will still be conducted by a UK adoption agency working with the overseas agency. There may be a fee involved and there are certain eligibility criteria to meet, but the process is very similar.

This process has to be thorough, as adoption agencies need to be sure they are placing children in good homes. This can seem daunting, but we can help you.

We are experienced in helping couples through this process. Whether it's advising you about the agency application, preparing your adoption order submission or even challenging the adoption's panel's decision – we will support you every step of the way.

I live in Scotland, can Irwin Mitchell help me?

Our expert family law team works with a number of trusted partners to help our clients with family law issues in Scotland.

We’ll be your point of contact and manage the entire process for you throughout. You’ll get frequent progress updates and we’ll break down any legal jargon into plain English so you’re always in the loop.

To find out more about how we can help, give us a call on 0370 1500 100 or contact us online.

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