Simpson Millar LLP Settle Assisted Reproduction Case


In certain circumstances, a woman in a civil partnership can be treated as the legal parent of a child, together with her partner who is the biological mother.

Becoming a legal parent when you are not the biological parent is a serious matter. As a 'legal parent' you have certain rights and responsibilities in regards to where the child lives, how often you see the child and how you financially provide for them.

Most importantly, being a legal parent makes you an essential part of the child's life.

How a lesbian partner can become a legal parent?

For a lesbian partner to become a legal parent, certain conditions need to be met at the time the biological mother is treated at the clinic which include:
  • Both her and her partner must have given written and signed notice to the clinic that gives their consent for the female partner to be treated as the parent of the child
  • Neither of these consents is withdrawn
  • Both gave consent having been informed of their options and given up to date information

In a recent case undertaken by Simpson Millar LLP, it was discussed how this consent is given and how a lesbian partner can rightfully become a legal parent. A series of events meant that the couple involved did not meet the above conditions and the partner could not be treated as a legal parent.

The Background

The couple concerned had been together for many years, when they agreed to have a child. One partner was to undergo the procedure using donor sperm, which left the other partner with no biological tie to the child.

At the clinic, the couple discussed their thoughts and decisions with a counsellor. For the above conditions to be valid it is also important that the couple involved are given sufficient, relevant and up-to-date information.

After 3 rounds of fertility treatment, the woman became pregnant with twins.

New Consent Form Leads to Trouble

Both partners signed a new consent form which acknowledged a change in the law. This change stated that the non- biological parent would now have legal rights over the children as if they were a biological parent.

Unfortunately, the strain of having children became too much for the couple's relationship, and they broke up The biological mother stated that it would not be in the twins' best interests for the other partner to have contact with them.

Simpson Millar LLP Does What’s Best for the Children

Throughout the case, Simpson Millar LLP played a crucial role in bringing the situation to a conclusion. The case was very complicated and needed care and consideration, especially because it involved children.

The judge concluded that the partner was not the legal parent of the children because the consent form was not properly in place. This meant that not only did she not have a biological connection with the children - she also had no legal connection to them either.

What Effects Will This Have for the Future?

Not being genetically related to a child and not being a legal 'parent' can affect not only the relationship between the parent and the child but also the relationship between the child and the whole of that parent's family. It has now been determined that the non- legal parent, who is also the non- biological mother does not have a place in the children’s future. The birth certificate will be changed and there will be no contact. If the legal parentage had been upheld the outcome would have been very different.

This case highlights what happens when procedures set out in law are not followed, and how someone can mistakenly believe that they are a 'legal parent'.

The change in the law allows a woman in a same-sex relationship, whether or not in a civil partnership, to become a 'parent' of any child born to her partner if both parties agree. For this to happen it is important that the clinic provides both partners with sufficient, accessible and up-to-date information which allows them to make an informed decision.

The clinic must also ensure that both partners have given written and signed consent before they proceed and they must keep accurate records to this effect.

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