I’m in a Same-sex Relationship, who has Parental Responsibility?

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Parental responsibility, in a sentence, sounds straightforward enough, right? For some in our LGBT+ community, certain references around ‘birth mother’ and mother-father relationships can feel alienating. Here, we cut through the jargon and explain responsibility for those of us in a same-sex relationship.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility refers to the duties and legal rights a parent has for the child they care for. It is automatically given to the birth mother of a child, and the father named on the birth certificate. If the birth mother is married or in a civil partnership, it is also automatically given to her partner. Parental responsibility under section 3(1) of the Children Act 1989 is defined as the ‘rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.’

This means that whoever has Parental Responsibility is legally responsible for looking after a child, as well as making decisions which could affect them, such as where they receive their education, medical and health treatment. Parental Responsibility can be obtained through a court order, if a child is adopted, or if their birth parent(s) pass away.

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Parental Responsibility for Same sex Couples

If you are in a same-sex relationship, you can obtain Parental Responsibility over a child through various circumstances. A child can only have two legal parents, but more than two people are able to have Parental Responsibility.

Fertility Treatment

If a child is born via fertility treatment after April 6 2009, the child can have two female parents under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. The birth mother will be automatically given Parental Responsibility, and the mother’s partner will be named as the second parent (if they were married or in a civil partnership at the time of conception).

If a child is conceived via sperm donation, the birth mother will be automatically given Parental Responsibility, and the second parent will legally be the sperm donor. He will only be given parental responsibility, however, if he is named as father on the birth certificate.

Child Arrangement Order

Parental Responsibility can also be obtained via a Child Arrangements Order, which determines where and who a child shall live with, as well as how they will be cared for, and (if applicable) when the child may see their other parent.

Adoption Order

Parental Responsibility may also be obtained through adoption which will be granted by a Court. However, before an Adoption Order can be granted, the child must live with you and your partner for 10 weeks, so that their care can be assessed by an Adoption Agency. The child must also be older than six weeks old, and consent from your Local Authority must be given.

For more information regarding your rights, or if you would like any advice moving forward, get in touch with a member of our expert Family Team, to see if we can help you.

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