LEGAL EAGLE: Same-sex parents’ rights

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I have been in a relationship with my female partner for seven years and we have decided we want to try for a baby together. We have not entered into a civil partnership but have lived together for five years. I am going to carry the baby and we intend to visit a clinic for me to be inseminated. Starting a family together is something we both want and we are going to raise the child together as a family. I would like to know if my partner has any legal rights towards the baby and if not is there anything we can do so she can obtain them?

Parental responsibility for a child in the legal sense is not always automatic for both parents of a child. In certain circumstances a parent must apply for legal parental responsibility. Birth mothers have parental responsibility for their babies from birth.

It is possible, under UK legislation, for a child to have a legal mother and ‘other parent’. If at the time of the birth the birth mother is in a civil partnership or married her partner is treated as a parent of the child unless it can be shown that her partner did not consent to the insemination. As you are not in a civil partnership or married the position is slightly different.

The law permits that if females in a same-sex relationship are having a child conceived in a registered IVF clinic the legal mother of that child, being the partner who will carry the child and gave birth to the child, can nominate her partner as a ‘parent’ of the child once the child has been born.

The insemination must take place in a registered IVF clinic as the sperm donor has consented that he will not be the child’s legal ‘father’.

The nominated parent can apply for parental responsibility of the child by being registered as a parent on the child’s birth certificate, this is the most straightforward option and you can do this by registering the birth together. Alternatively the mother can make a parental responsibility agreement with her partner or parental responsibility can be obtained by applying to the court.

Obtaining parental responsibility for your child would give your partner rights and responsibilities in relation to the child. She could then make decisions regarding your child’s education, religion and medical care along with the day to day decisions.

l Ben Hoare Bell Solicitors has many specialist Family Law Solicitors who can advise on issues such as surrogacy and parental rights. To speak to a Solicitor please ring 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for more information.