THE FAM­ILY WAY

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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.

PREG­NANCY

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.

ADOP­TION

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.

FOS­TER­ING

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 diva@an­tho­ny­gold.co.uk.

Visit space­girl­books. co.uk for in­for­ma­tion about Katy Wat­son’s books fea­tur­ing fam­i­lies with two mums.

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