Those of you whose guilty evening pleasure is to switch off from a day’s work and watch the continuing dramas in Coronation Street will have seen the twist in the recent episode about the surrogacy plot between Tina McIntyre (played by Michelle Keegen) and Izzy Armstrong (played by Cherylee Houston).
For those who are not Corrie aficinados, Tina had offered to be a surrogate for Izzy and her partner Gary and she has recently given birth to baby boy Jake. During the episode, Tina decided to change her mind and now wishes to keep her son. So what are the legal implications of this and do poor old Izzy and Gary have any rights to intervene?
Surrogacy is legal in the UK, however only if no money other than “reasonable expenses” is paid to the surrogate. In this case Tina did receive money from Izzy’s father for offering to be the surrogate. Tina wanted the money so she could pay off her boyfriend’s debt and so this is unlikely to be classed as “reasonable expenses” and so the legalities of the surrogacy are questionable.
Unfortunately for Izzy and Gary the surrogacy agreement reached with Tina may well not be legally binding and, if so, will not be recognised by law in the UK. This means they won’t have any comeback against Tina for changing her mind.
As Tina carried baby Jake until birth, she is recognised as the legal mother and so Izzy, as the intended mother to Jake, would have no recognition as being a legal parent, even if she is Jake’s biological mother as her eggs were used. In contrast, Gary, who is the intended father to Jake, is recognised as the legal father as his sperm was used. This is likely to spark a debate and I can imagine it is difficult to accept that Izzy is not a legal parent, even though she contributed just as much biologically as Gary did to the making of their baby!
Usually if the surrogacy arrangement went according to plan for both Izzy and Gary, they would apply for a Parental Order in order to extinguish Tina’s parental status and they would have full recognition as being Jake’s legal parents. This has to be done within 6 months of the birth. However in these circumstances, Izzy and Gary will not be able to apply for a Parental Order as they don’t satisfy the criteria needed. Firstly, it is very unlikely Tina will consent to the Order being granted and secondly, Izzy and Gary are not married.
It will be interesting to see how the plot unfolds but who knew Coronation Street could be educational as well as entertaining!