Surrogate mother: change of mind.

Author:Harris, Alexandra Conroy
Position:Legal notes: England and Wales
 
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CW v NT and another [2011] High Court (Family Division) Baker J 21 January 2011 [2011] EWHC 33 (Fam)

Mr and Mrs W were a couple in their 40s who had four children between them when they married in 2005, but were unable to have a child together as a result of Mrs W's treatment for cancer. After several miscarriages they considered surrogacy, but decided against using an agency because of the cost involved. NT was a 25-year-old woman with twin boys who contacted Mr and Mrs W through a surrogacy website. NT visited the couple and agreed to act as a surrogate, becoming pregnant by inseminating herself with Mr W's sperm. She was paid two sums amounting to [pounds sterling] 4,500 in the early months of the pregnancy and Mr and Mrs W bought maternity clothes and some other items for her. During the pregnancy the relationship between NT and Mr and Mrs W deteriorated and NT decided that she wanted to keep the baby. When the baby was born, Mr W issued an application for a residence order.

There were several factual disputes between the parties about the surrogacy arrangements, in particular suggestions that NT was planning to give the baby to a friend of hers to adopt and that Mr and Mrs W had taken in a pregnant woman known to the police and social services with the intention of buying her baby. Mr and Mrs W alleged that NT was not attached to the child and suggested that the baby should be placed with them immediately with no contact with NT. NT claimed that there was domestic violence in the relationship between Mr and Mrs W. The judge found that neither NT nor Mr and Mrs W were reliable witnesses and that some of the emails and text messages put before him had been altered.

Held

NT's conduct in relation to the surrogacy agreement was only relevant to the issue of her credibility; there was no question of penalising her for breaking the agreement. The court had to consider only which household could best meet the baby's needs as she grew up. The judge held that although NT had behaved...

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