Parental Responsibility for Lesbian Couples
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental responsibility means the responsibility of parents towards their children. In simple words, Parental responsibility refers to the powers, rights, duties, and obligations that an adult person may have to fulfill for a child.
The term Parental Responsibility has been defined under Section 3(1) Children Act 1989 as "all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities The term Parental Responsibility has been defined under Section 3(1) Children Act 1989 as "all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has concerning the child and his property."
People with parental responsibility will be allowed to share or make important decisions relating the child’s future and upbringing, including medical decisions, schooling, religion amongst others.
Who automatically has parental responsibility of a child?
The birth mother of the child automatically gains parental responsibility of a child. It must be noted that birth mother does not necessarily mean biological mother.
The law of England and Wales states that whoever gives birth to the child will be the legal mother of the child even if she got pregnant as a result of donated eggs.
Further, the identity of the other parents depends on how and under what circumstances the child was conceived. We will detail all possible scenarios in this article. If you feel unsure about where you fall in these situations and need help, you can call us at Court Help Limited at 07375757510 or contact us here.
If the child was conceived via Artificial Insemination at a Licensed Fertility Clinic:
The birth mother of the child will have parental responsibility in all of the following situations, it is simply the parental responsibility of the sperm donor and the birth mothers partner which changes relative to the situation.
If the birth mother of the child is unmarried/ not in a civil partnership:
If the child was conceived through artificial insemination at a licensed fertility clinic in the UK and the birth mother is unmarried/not in a civil partnership, then the other biological parent will be the legal father.
However, you can sign agreements with the fertility clinic so the legal parents of the child will be the birth mother and her partner and not the sperm donor.
If such agreements are signed, then the child will have no legal father but both the same sex parents can have their names on the birth certificate and have full parental responsibility.
If the birth mother of the child is married/ in a civil partnership:
If the child is born after April 09 2006:
If the birth mother is married or in a civil partnership at the time of conception then the spouse/civil partner of the birth mother will be the legal parent of the child even if they are not the biological parent, as long as they consented to the treatment.
This is regardless of whether the sperm donor is unknown/known.
Please note this only applies if the child was born after April 06 2009, due to the changes in law under Section 42 of Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.
If the child is born before April 06 2009:
The spouse/civil partner of the birth mother does not automatically get rights, but can apply for them/ get them via a parental Responsibility Agreement.
Please note that the dates for this law differ slightly for opposite sex couples.
Please also note that these laws and rules only apply to artificial insemination, and not if the child is conceived via Sexual Intercourse. If the child is conceived via sexual intercourse then the both parents on the birth certificate will be the legal parents.
Please note that despite these being the guidelines for who automatically gets parental responsibility, there are ways this can be changed after the birth of the child. Court Help Limited can help you get parental responsibility of your child with our knowledgeable team. Give us a call at 073 75 757523 or contact us here for affordable legal support.
Read about these methods here, later in the article.
If the child was conceived via Artificial Insemination at a Home:
There are no strict laws which say Artificial Insemnation must occur at a licensed clinic , therefore some people may choose to do so at home.
In this case, the sperm donor may have parental responsibility for the child regardless of whether the birth mother is married or unmarried or in a civil partnership.
If the birth mother is married/ in a civil partnership her partner can still get parental responsibility of the child.
If the Child is Adopted?
As long as both parents adopt the child, then both parents will have full parental responsibility for the child.
Parental Responsibility will also be taken away from the biological parents in the case of adoption.
How to obtain parental responsibility for Same Sex Couples?
Complications may arise for same-sex couples who were not in a civil partnership/married at the time of the child's conception.
In such cases, parental responsibility can be obtained by the following ways;
Applying for it via a Parental Responsibility Agreement
Applying to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order
Registering the birth of the child jointly
Child Arrangement Orders which say the child should "live with" someone automatically gives that person parental responsibility.
Legal Firms such as ourselves at Court Help Limited can draft Parental Responsibility Agreements or draft applications for Parental Responsibility Orders. For affordable support, call 073 75 757523 or contact us here.
A Case Study in Same-Sex Parental Responsibility for Partners not in a Civil Relationship and Unmarried:
The case of FC vs MC was heard in the high court. It regarded a couple, FC and MC, two women who were not at any point married or in a civil partnership with one another but were in a relationship from 2010 to 2018.
The two decided to have a child together via Artificial Insemination, known as “D”. D was born in 2016. MC was D’s birth mother, but both MC and FC raised the child after D’s birth.
After D’s birth, MC and FC could have entered a Parental Responsibility agreement which would have given FC D’s parental responsibility regardless of FC not being married to MC. However both parties did not believe a Parental Responsibility Agreement was necessary as they were happily together at the time.
After the separation of FC and MC in 2018, when D was 2, FC had regular contact with D and no issues occurred. However as contact was suddenly stopped by MC in 2019, FC applied to the court for contact and parental responsibility.
Fc argued that she was fully involved in Ds life, and at the time of Ds birth, both FC and MC had the intentions of raising D together as joint parents. They had even considered a Parental Responsibility Agreement but had simply not prioritized it at the time.
FC was given parental responsibility of D with a shared live-with order alongside MC.
This decision was made as the judge stated it was “clear both mothers loved D very much” and FC was very involved in D’s life, as well as the fact that when D was born it was under the assumption he would be raised by both MC and FC and therefore FC had made a lifelong commitment towards D.
Overall, the court looked at what was in D’s best wishes and interests, as is the court's policy for any child-related court matters
Within any same-sex relationship, if consideration is being given to having a child together and the parties are not in a civil partnership/married, then entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement when the child is born is vital to help protect your position as a parent should your relationship deteriorate with your partner in the future.
We at Court Help Limited could help you with drafting a Parental Responsibility Agreement, you can contact us right here.
This article is not legal advice and should not be considered as legal advice.