THE FAMILY WAY
Family planning advice from Anthony Gold Solicitors
STARTING A FAMILY? ANTHONY GOLD SOLICITORS TELL YOU ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
It’s already commonplace for same-sex couples to be bringing up children, and is becoming more so, but starting a family together is a step you will want to discuss carefully with your partner. There are a number of different ways to have a baby or bring up a child, and being clear about your general legal and practical position from the outset can help you to avoid potential pitfalls later on.
Let’s look at the three main options for starting a family and what they entail.
Conception option 1: Licensed fertility clinics. You can be inseminated with donor sperm in either private or NHS clinics. Sperm may be donated by a known friend or via the clinic by an anonymous donor. Conception option 2: Do-it-yourself insemination. Tricky but certainly not impossible! There are online guides to help you achieve this and information available in Stonewall’s guide, Pregnant Pause. Conception option 3: Have sexex
with a man. Many same-sex female emale couples in a committed relationship onship do not want to have sex with a man to get pregnant. However, thiss is not unknown as a method used byy lesbians and bi women to conceive. The legal position: If you are the birth mother, then you are consideredred one of the legal parents of the child ld and have parental responsibility for or the child. A child can only ever have ve two legal parents at any time. The fact that the birth motherr is lesbian or bisexual is not relevant in law.
For conceptions after 6 April 2009, the non-birth mother will be the other legal parent if the couple are in a civil partnership or marriage, or the conception was in a licensed ed fertility clinic and the couple both signed the relevant formss pre- conception. If not, then the he non-birth mother will have to legally adopt the child to become ome their legal parent. For those in a civil partnership or marriage, the non-birth partner can automatically become the second parent provided she is named with the birth mother on the birth certificate when the birth is registered.
If you are the birth mother and do not want your civil partner or spouse to be registered as the other parent, this is possible but the situation is complicated and you will need legal advice. Similarly, if the non-birth partner in the Cp/marriage does not want to become the legal parent, then she should also seek legal advice about how to achieve this. Parental responsibility is defined as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authorities which by law a parent has in relation to a child and their property”. This means that anyone with parental responsibility can take decisions about matters such as the child’s education, religion, where they should live and whether or not they can leave the country. Whereas a child can only have two legal parents, there is no limit on the number of pp people who can share parental responsibility. A child’s birth mother will automatically have parental responsibility. A child’s legal parent who is named on the birth certificate or adoption certificate will have parental responsibility. Non-birth mothers who are not classed as legal parents but are married or in civil partnership with the birth mother can acquireacquir parental responsibility simply by signing a written agreement with the birth mother. Such a form is available from the Court Service website. If this is not possible then an application ca can be made to the Fami Family
Court f for either a parental responsibility order or a child arrangements order (an order stipulating where a child should live), which automatically gives the person with such an order parental responsibility.
If conception is not the preferred way forward or not possible then adoption is another possibility for starting your family. In a relationship with the birth mother: A partner of a birth mother who wants to adopt her existing child and has not acquired legal parenthood as above can apply to adopt the child. This process is relatively straightforward and is administered by the local social services team. Non-birth couples wishing to adopt: Adoption is a way of providing a permanent home and family to a child who can’t be brought up by their birth family. In England, 8% of all adoptions during the year ending 31 March 2015 were by same-sex couples*.
It is possible to register with the local social services department or there are a number of independent adoption agencies that can be sourced through the internet. Couples are taken through an assessment process which can be lengthy and challenging. If successful, the couple can be referred to an adoption panel and, if approved, the next stage is trying to match a child with the prospective adopters. Find out more at adoptionuk.org/ about-adoption.
Same-sex couples are eligible to foster children. Fostering involves providing a home for a young person who cannot live with their own parents because of problems. Some placements are short and others long-term. Fostering can lead to adoption.
Anthony Gold legal team can help guide you through the legal and practical process of starting a family. Contact them today on 020 7940 4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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