(Family Division, Theis J, 19 July 2013)
The 7-month-old child was conceived via a surrogacy arrangement in California as a result of the married parents being unable to conceive a child naturally.
There was little issue about the s 54 criteria being satisfied: the applicants were married, the application was made within 6 months of the child's birth, at least one of the applicants was domiciled in England and Wales at the time of the birth and the child had remained in their care since birth.
Section 54(8) required the court to be satisfied that no money or other benefit other than for expenses reasonably incurred had been given or received by the applicants in consideration of the agreement. The applicants had paid a total of $51,200 to the respondents which was not for expenses reasonably incurred. In addition $15,000 was paid to the surrogacy agency and $28,195 to the fertility centre.
In these particular circumstances Theis J was satisfied that the sums paid were not disproportionate to the reasonable expenses and should be authorised by the court. They did not overbear the will of the surrogate and were not of such a level to be an affront to public policy. They were payments permitted in the jurisdiction in which they were made, and were not too dissimilar to payments made in similar cases.
A thorough report had been submitted by the parental order reporter who concluded that the child was living in a loving home where he was cherished and loved. There were no concerns for his welfare and it was in his best interests to remain in the applicants' care. The child's lifelong security and stability could only be met by the making of a parental order.