What can I expect from a final parental order hearing at Central Family Court in London

The ultimate goal of every surrogate and intended parent team is to have a healthy, bouncing baby. But with the UK law, there is a further goalpost of changing the legal parenthood from the surrogate to the intended parents. This typically happens between 8 – 9 months post birth and can feel a daunting experience.

Brilliant Beginnings and NGA Law support teams here in the UK whilst they are navigating this final stage. Our Client Manager who is herself an experienced surrogate, joined one of the teams she supported at the final parental order in what was a celebration of this key milestone being met. Whilst there are very few cases where parental orders are not granted, for so many it is a nerve-wrecking process and one which is acknowledged in the Law Commissions proposals.

A final court hearing for a parental order: Nicky’s account

I arranged to meet Ben, Dan and Theo outside of the Central Family Court – High Holborn at 1.15pm ahead of the hearing a 2pm.

On arriving at the court there is covered entry way with a notice board where there are details for all hearings being held that day. Each court room (28 of them) had an individual A4 sheet detailing the times of each hearing and the case numbers, so after a bit of searching I found that Ben and Dan’s hearing was in court 8.

Once Ben, Dan, Theo and Ben’s mum (Michelle) arrived we made our way through to the security check area. This was a bit like airport security, with bag scanners and another scanner to walk through with a guard on the other side who carried out checks with a metal detector. Any liquid had to be tried in front of them (Dan drew the line at baby formula) to prove they were OK. Anything that looked suspicious in the bags (glass, sharps etc) was asked to be removed and checked. Theo’s baby bag was under a lot of scrutiny at this point with Calpol, bottles, and teething gel. The guards were apologetic but patiently explained that they needed to check everything, while Dan went through the bag and showed them what was showing up on the scanner. We got through in the end.

Once through security there was a large waiting area with a desk to sign in and chairs grouped around for us to sit and wait. We were able to sit directly outside of the court room which is where the clerk for their case found us and chatted through what would happen during the hearing.

Promptly at 2pm we were called into the court room, a large room with a desk at the front where the 3 magistrates were sat and then desks in a U shape facing the main one. The clerk ran through who was present and the reason why and the head magistrate talked through the details of the surrogacy.

She asked Ben and Dan why they decided to opt for support from BB and they explained that they had done a lot of research and liked the way we screened the surrogates, matched them with IPs and then supported them on the journey. Ben let her know that the match with Kendall was great and they were thankful to BB for that. They have an ongoing relationship with Kendall, Kevin and their children and had seen them the previous weekend.

She also talked through the fact that there was evidence of a genetic link to Ben, that the expenses were in line with what they see and that there were no concerns raised on the CAFCAS visit report. She confirmed with the other magistrates that she is happy that baby’s needs are being met and he is in a stable home.

She then confirmed that they were granting the parental order and from that moment on it was valid. 

The process from there was then explained; that Ben and Dan would receive a letter from court to confirm the PO had been granted and then they should contact the Registry Office to apply for Theo’s new Birth Certificate. They hoped that this would be a quick process but may take a few weeks following the Covid backlog.

Theo (who was asleep) was given a teddy and we were invited to take pictures. We were in the court room for about 10 minutes. Although formal, the judges were happy and smiley and put everyone at ease.

Another wonderful journey for us all to be a part of.

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