The Surrogacy Journey Examined

The Surrogacy Journey Examined

Legal Insights from Friends: Phoebe’s Surrogacy Journey Examined

“So no one told you life was gonna be this way…”

This is the third article in our series analysing the Friends TV sitcom from the perspective of a Scottish Family Lawyer.

Phoebe, Rachel, and Monica all give birth to children in what might be viewed as “non-traditional” circumstances. Phoebe acts as a surrogate for her half-brother, Rachel has a child with her ex, Ross, and Monica adopts twins.

This article looks into the circumstances in which Phoebe acts as a surrogate for her half-brother, Frank Buffay Jr.

What is a Surrogate Mother?

A Surrogate Mother – in this case, Phoebe – means any woman who agrees to an arrangement prior to her becoming pregnant, in which she intends for her child to be handed over to, and parental responsibilities to be met by another person or other persons.

Non-commercial Surrogacy

Under Scots Law, the legislation prohibits any kind of “commercial” surrogacy. This means there can be no financial benefit to be gained from the initiation of surrogacy arrangements; the negotiations around arrangements; offers of surrogacy; or following the birth of the child(ren).

Were they in Scotland, Frank could have covered Phoebe’s “reasonable expenses”. These can include travel costs, treatment costs, maternity clothes, and any loss of earnings.

Brilliant Beginnings (brilliantbeginnings.co.uk) estimates that a budget for UK surrogates can be anywhere in the region of £20,000 to £80,000+. This is a drop in the water when compared with the costs for parents in the US which range from £250,000 to £320,000+, with one of the key differences being that, in the US, surrogate mothers can charge a compensation fee.

Is Phoebe the legal mother of the triplets?

The current law is that even with a Surrogate Arrangement in place, the mother who gives birth to the child(ren), is the “legal mother”. This is still the case in Phoebe’s situation, where she does not have a genetic link to the triplets.

Under Scots law, Phoebe would remain the triplets’ mother until Frank and Alice obtain a parental order.

Frank Jr and Alice

For Frank Jr and his wife Alice to become the legally recognised parents of the Triplets, they would be required to obtain a parental order within six months from birth, but not before the first six weeks.

The current law in Scotland requires the surrogate mother to consent to the parental order.

The unfortunate reality of the current system is that the process of obtaining a parental order in Scotland can take up to six months. During this time Frank and Alice would not parental rights in relation to their children; even though they are genetically the parents of the triplets.

For more information on our Family Law services click here.

Edward Fitzgerald
Senior Solicitor
Email:  efitzgerald@gilsongray.co.uk

 

 

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