Vardags: law when it really matters

I’m undergoing assisted reproduction and I need legal advice

Assisted reproduction raises a number of legal issues, and the best advice can help stop problems before they develop.

Depending on the method of assisted reproduction you have chosen, the legal issues will be different. You may be concerned about ensuring that a child born through surrogacy is properly registered as your child, or concerned about bringing a child born through international surrogacy back to the UK. You may also be concerned about arrangements between yourself and your partner, or a co-parent, or about estate-planning for your new family.

Each of these issues involves complex aspects of the law, and can be difficult to navigate, especially if there is a dispute. You may need advice which encompasses specialist fertility law as well as more traditional family law. Such issues can involve multiple jurisdictions and can have an important impact on the future of your family.

As a top family law firm, incorporating world-leading expertise in fertility and family law, Vardags can help you steer you through any legal issues arising in assisted reproduction.

We have helped a range of couples and individuals in all manner of circumstances, providing advice and representation throughout their reproductive journey. Whether a problem has arisen, or you simply want advice on securing your legal position, we can provide comprehensive guidance and representation.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

How can Vardags help?

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) issues guidance to UK fertility clinics which requires them to ensure you understand the issues and give informed consent to fertility treatment. In order to comply with their licence requirements, UK fertility clinics can therefore require you to obtain specialist fertility, donor conception, surrogacy and family law advice to understand the complex legal issues, implications, and outcomes before offering treatment. 

In line with this, Vardags can provide sensitive, experienced, and tailored legal advice on family building law advice for fertility patients in the UK internationally (including family building options, fertility preservation, IVF law, donor conception law, and surrogacy law), and fertility treatment law in the UK (including informed consent to treatment).

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

Surrogacy raises complex questions about British nationality and immigration law including:

  • Will my surrogate born child be born British?
  • What’s the route for bringing my surrogate born child home to the UK?
  • How long will I have to spend abroad with my baby following an overseas surrogacy arrangement?

UK immigration law applies to those who are resident in the UK, regardless of whether they are British citizens, EEA nationals or permanently resident in the UK. There are various ways a surrogate born child can obtain British nationality and a British passport to include: by birth, by descent, registration as a British citizen, upon the grant of a parental order in certain circumstances. 

The English Family Court consistently advises intended parents to obtain specialist legal advice at the outset of their surrogacy journey. Vardags can provide specialist, sensitive and tailored legal advice on all surrogacy issues, including how to manage surrogacy law in the UK and its international application, how to bring your surrogate-born child safely into the UK, how to acquire legal parenthood and the process for a parental order.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

There are no international agreements governing surrogacy arrangements. This creates international conflicts of law and a legal patchwork effect around the world which can be compounded when intended parents and families formed through surrogacy have an international lifestyle or multi-jurisdictional aspects to their personal and/or professional situations. 

English law applies its own law on surrogacy and does not automatically recognize foreign parentage orders or foreign birth certificates naming intended parents as the parents of their surrogate born children. This can make a surrogate born child ‘stateless and parentless’ without recognised legal parents and status in a country. 

In the absence of specialist legal advice, parents, children and families created through surrogacy can lack legal protection and security in the UK and internationally. We can provide effective, specialist, and tailored legal advice on international surrogacy law, acquisition of legal parenthood and parental responsibility for a surrogate-born child, applying for a parental order in the English Family Court, and other complex family law issues.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

There are various ways to conceive with donor eggs, including at a UK fertility clinic, by private arrangement (i.e. a straight surrogate arrangement) or at a fertility clinic overseas. 

Conception with donor eggs creates a range of medical, legal, emotional, financial and practical issues which require careful consideration. Specialist legal advice is an important safeguard in the fertility treatment and family building process. We can provide bespoke and comprehensive legal advice on all egg donation law, in the UK and internationally, including where your personal circumstances are complicated (including egg swapping as a same-sex couple, relationship difficulties or breakdown, change of circumstances and international aspects). We can also prepare a ‘family proof’ will following egg donation.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

Donor sperm can be used to conceive in various ways, including at a UK fertility clinic, by private arrangement or at a fertility clinic overseas. 

The law is complex and can apply differently depending upon your relationship status (whether you are single, married or in a civil partnership at the point of conception), how you conceive (artificial inception or sexual intercourse), where you conceive (at a clinic or at home), and who is named on the child’s birth certificate. 

We can provide expert tailored legal advice to help you navigate the different issues relating to sperm donation and fertility law in the UK and its international application. No matter how complicated your personal situation – whether you are facing a change of circumstances, a new relationship or relationship breakdown – we are experts at finding solutions. We can also prepare a ‘family proof’ will following donor conception.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

Women are born with a finite number of eggs that decrease in quantity and quality with age, which can make it difficult to conceive in later years. Egg freezing can help a woman try to preserve her fertility, however, it does not guarantee a baby, and it can create complex legal issues. If you are considering this route, expert legal advice an important safeguard in the fertility treatment process. 

Vardags can assist you with all legal aspects of egg freezing including length of storage of eggs, use of eggs (e.g. in the event of death, incapacity, decisions about research or donation for another’s treatment), information disclosure and giving informed consent. We can also offer specialist legal advice if the process doesn’t work (i.e. result in a pregnancy and live birth).

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

Posthumous conception is legal in the UK, but it is highly complex and needs to be dealt with carefully. There are stringent legal requirements governing the procurement, storage and use of eggs, sperm and embryos following death, especially with regards to consent. 

English law expects you to have secured written, signed consent for the storage and use of eggs, sperm, and embryos after death.  Ideally, you should proactively complete a series of consent forms that are available at all UK fertility clinics because consent cannot usually be obtained retrospectively after death. 

Whatever stage you are at, we can provide you with specialist legal advice on posthumous conception law, giving informed consent to fertility treatment at a UK fertility clinic (including the procurement, use, consent, and storage of embryos and completion of consent forms), and preparation of a ‘family proof’ will.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

Conception with a known donor can provide a more personal dimension to your family building arrangement, however, it can also create risks in practice because the parties are known to each other. Changes of heart, disagreements and changes of circumstances can have an impact on your overall legal position, particularly after the birth if the donor has established a relationship with the child. 

To protect yourself against these risks, you should seriously consider entering into a carefully written known donor agreement. If you do, the English Family Court can take this into account if a dispute arises. Whilst the court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child, your known donor agreement can be important evidence, clearly illustrating what was intended, understood, and agreed between you and your donor. 

Vardags can support you with tailored legal advice on the preparation of a known donor agreement, legal parenthood and parental responsibility for a child conceived through known donation, resolving a legal dispute with a known donor or other party, and fertility treatment law in the UK with donor sperm and eggs (including informed consent to treatment at a UK fertility clinic).

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

The donation of eggs or sperm by a family member is known as inter-family donation.  It provides a genetic link between the recipient and the child (unlike conception with arms-length donated eggs or sperm), which can be an important driving factor in some cases. 

To prevent consanguinity (incest), there are legal restrictions as to the mixing of eggs and sperm between close relatives. However, inter-family donation is permissible in some cases at UK fertility clinics. 

Conception through inter-family donation creates a range of medical, legal, emotional, financial and practical issues which you will want to consider carefully.  The close family relationship can add a further layer of complexity to the process that requires sensitive and careful management.

We can provide you with expert legal advice on inter-family egg and sperm donation law in the UK and its application internationally, donor information law and practice, and fertility treatment law in the UK with donated gametes.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

Co-parenting is generally understood as a parenting arrangement in which the parents are not romantically involved. As a child can only have up to two legal parents in English law, this can create issues around who will obtain legal parenthood in multi-adult cases and who will be named on the child’s birth certificate.  Legal problems can also occur around the acquisition and exercise of parental responsibility for the child, which governs decisions for the day-to-day welfare and upbringing of the child. 

A written co-parenting agreement, tailored to your situation, is an important tool if you are entering a co-parenting arrangement. It will establish the ground rules for helping manage the complex legal aspects in practice, as well as the expectations involved.  Whilst the court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child, a co-parenting agreement can be of important evidential benefit of what was intended, understood and agreed between the parties. 

Vardags can provide sensitive, expert tailored legal advice on co-parenting law in the UK and its international application, including preparation of a co-parenting agreement as well as dealing with issues of legal parenthood, parental responsibility, financial provision and disputes.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

If you conceive with a sperm donor by private arrangement outside of a UK fertility clinic, the donor could be considered the legal parent of the child with all the rights and responsibilities that flow from this. Complex legal issues also arise if you conceive privately through a straight surrogacy arrangement (where the surrogate conceives with her own egg). The law can apply differently depending on your relationship status (whether you are single, married, or in a civil partnership at the point of conception), how you conceive (artificial conception or sexual intercourse), who is named on the child’s birth certificate, and whether the donor will have/has an established relationship with the child. Given all of these variables it is important to obtain specialist legal advice.

We can support you with tailored legal advice on surrogacy law in the UK, sperm donation law in the UK and its international application, and legal parenthood for a child conceived through assisted conception.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

Modern families and those involving known donors, co-parents, surrogacy and assisted conception create additional layers of legal complexity and potential difficulties. In addition, the UK has some of the highest rates of relationship breakdown in Europe. Difficulties can arise at any time on a wide range of issues including: acquisition of legal parenthood, acquisition and exercise of parental responsibility, birth certificate arrangements, day-to-day care of a child, and contact with a child. 

Specialist fertility, parenting, and family law advice can help you in a number of ways, including managing and mitigating the legal risks and issues involved, helping you to understand what would happen legally and practically if family life doesn’t go to plan, and legally restructuring arrangements for your family following relationship breakdown or a change in circumstances. 

We can provide sensitive, experienced, and specialist legal advice on legal parenthood for a child conceived through fertility treatment, assisted conception, donor conception, natural conception or surrogacy (including declarations of parentage, DNA testing, parental order proceedings and adoption).

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) issues guidance to UK fertility clinics which requires them to ensure you understand the issues and give informed consent to fertility treatment. In order to comply with their licence requirements, UK fertility clinics can therefore require you to obtain specialist fertility, donor conception, surrogacy and family law advice to understand the complex legal issues, implications, and outcomes before offering treatment. 

In line with this, Vardags can provide sensitive, experienced, and tailored legal advice on family building law advice for fertility patients in the UK internationally (including family building options, fertility preservation, IVF law, donor conception law, and surrogacy law), and fertility treatment law in the UK (including informed consent to treatment).

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

When your relationship is in its early stages with a new partner, it can raise complex issues about legal status, day-to-day arrangements, and care of your existing or future born child. It is important to consider a number of questions with regard to legal parental autonomy, legal parenthood and parental responsibility, as well as financial and emotional issues. In addition, you should undertake a legal risk analysis as well as other proactive steps to ensure a strong legal basis for the future. 

Vardags can provide you with sensitive and specialist legal advice on parental issues assisted conception, donor conception, natural conception or surrogacy, and legal parenthood for a child conceived through fertility treatment.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

If circumstances change during a surrogate pregnancy, it is important to proactively manage the legal and practical issues as soon as they come about. Circumstances can change at any time for a variety of reasons, such as relationship breakdown between intended parents, change of heart by a surrogate, communication problems and expectation differences between the parties, illness or medical complications, professional or financial difficulties.

We understand how difficult this can be, and acknowledge the need to act quickly and carefully. We can provide specialist tailored legal advice on surrogacy law in the UK and internationally, family law advice for modern families created through surrogacy and assisted conception following relationship breakdown (including divorce and financial proceedings, cohabitation law, and civil partnership dissolution), and preparation of a ‘family proof’ Will.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

It’s never too early or too late to take expert advice. Find out why.

Contact Vardags

London
020 7458 4358

10 Old Bailey, London, EC4M 7NG

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Cambridge
01223 855237

1 Saint Mary's Passage, Cambridge, CB2 3PQ

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Manchester
0161 464 5799

98 King Street, Manchester, M2 4WU

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Newcastle
0191 640 8779

75-85 Grey Street, Newcastle, NE1 6EF

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Winchester
01962 657268

1 St James' Terrace, Winchester, SO22 4PP

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