Back

France recognises family ties of parents of surrogate children

Mennesson v. France |2014

France recognises family ties of parents of surrogate children

We are very happy that our daughters now have their rights and their family ties fully recognised.

Dominique and Sylvie Mennesson, quoted as part of a statement by C.L.A.R.A. in RFI.

 

Background

Dominique and Sylvie Mennesson were unable to conceive a child naturally. Surrogacy arrangements are banned in France, so the couple decided to enter into an agreement in the United States, where the process is legal. 

The surrogate mother gave birth to twin girls—Valentina and Fiorella. 

Dominique and Sylvie were legally recorded as the twins’ parents on their US birth certificates. But when they tried to have the details transferred into the French register of births, the French authorities refused to comply, instead contacting prosecutors. 

The charges were ultimately dropped. But the couple were forced to go through over a decade of legal battles in the French courts concerning the validity of their daughters’ birth records. 

Valentina and Fiorella grew up in legal uncertainty. Their parents complained of difficulties when registering for social security, enrolling the children at the school canteen or an outdoor centre, or when applying for family allowances. 

The twins were also denied French nationality, complicating family travel and raising concerns over their right to remain in France when they became adults. 

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court found France’s refusal to recognise the details of Valentina and Fiorella’s US birth certificates undermined their identity within French society and violated their right to a private life.  

Follow-up 

France changed its case law in 2015 to recognise the parental ties which unite a French father with a child born abroad through a surrogacy arrangement. 

Since 2013, French nationality certificates must be issued when parental ties can be established through a valid foreign civil status certificate. 

An individual review procedure was also set up, so the Mennesson family were able to have their family ties recognised in the French civil registry and French nationality certificates were issued to Valentina and Fiorella.